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Should I Set Up a Living Will?

You should create a living will if you want your family and medical providers to know how to handle your medical care if you can’t speak for yourself.

setting up living willA living will is a legal document that outlines your preferences regarding the type of medical treatment you want if you can’t make your own decisions. The instructions you provide should direct your family members and doctors when specific circumstances arise, such as:

  • Coma
  • Terminal illness
  • Traumatic injury
  • Cognitive disease

With a living will, you can indicate your wishes for end-of-life care and whether you want your physicians to use extraordinary measures to keep you alive. You can also outline your decisions regarding medication, pain management, and additional medical preferences.

The Importance of a Living Will

A living will gives you peace of mind knowing you will receive the medical treatment you choose if something happens and you can’t inform anyone of your wishes. It can also relieve any burden your family would have had if they were forced to make challenging decisions on your behalf. If you clearly state what you want in your living will, it could prevent your family members from arguing over how to handle your medical care.

Who Can Create a Living Will?

Anyone at least 18 years old and of sound mind can set up a living will. Sound mind means you understand your decisions regarding the terms of the living will you’re creating.

Most people think older adults and individuals with a terminal illness are the only ones who can benefit from a living will. However, a valid living will can also help when unexpected scenarios arise, such as a fatal disease or car crash resulting in a coma.

When a Living Will Becomes Effective

A living will is only effective while you’re alive and unable to make sound decisions. Once a doctor deems you incompetent, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to communicate how you want your medical treatment to be handled, your living will can go into effect.

Typically, your medical provider will evaluate your condition to determine whether you no longer have the ability to understand your available treatment options and communicate your wishes.

If you pass away, your living will isn’t effective or enforceable anymore.

Difference Between a Living Will and Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is much different than a living will. The main difference is that a last will and testament outlines how you want your estate handled when you die. A living will directs people to make health care decisions under specific circumstances when you can’t speak for yourself.

Decisions You Should Include in Your Living Will

decisions to include in willIf you decide you want to create a living will, you should hire an estate planning attorney and consider your options regarding end-of-life care. The most common scenarios people include in their living wills are:

Feeding Tube

If you’re no longer able to eat on your own, you could receive the fluids and nutrients you need intravenously or through a tube in your stomach. Specific points you should address include:

  • Whether you want a feeding tube
  • When you want to be connected to a feeding tube
  • The length of time you should be fed through a feeding tube

Mechanical Ventilation

Mechanical ventilation occurs when a person can’t breathe on their own. If you want to include these instructions in your living will, you should specify certain information, such as:

  • Whether you want mechanical ventilation
  • The circumstances that should arise to be placed on a ventilator
  • How long you want to be on a ventilator


You can choose whether you want your doctors to use specific medications in different situations. For example, if you develop a serious infection, you can decide whether you want antibiotics administered.

You might have a strong opinion regarding controlled substances and would rather avoid strong painkillers and similar drugs.

Organ Donation

A living will can include a section on donations. If you want to donate your organs to someone in need, you should specify that in the document. You could also donate your body to science.


If your kidneys don’t function properly anymore, you can indicate whether you want to go on dialysis in your living will. Dialysis performs multiple functions, such as:

  • Assisting in controlling blood pressure
  • Removing waste, extra water, and salt from the body to prevent them from building up
  • Maintaining safe levels of certain chemicals in the blood, such as sodium and potassium

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you want to create a living will, you should contact an estate planning attorney from Staubus and Randall today. We can advise you about the various elements of a living will to ensure you address all the necessary scenarios, so your family knows what to do if you can’t make your own decisions anymore. Don’t leave anything to chance. Call 214-691-3411 today.

The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

Staubus & Randall Team

What Our Clients Say

"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."


"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."


"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."


"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”


"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”

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