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The living will: taking control – Blog Joep Verspaget

By november 2, 2015No Comments

Life expectancy is on the rise, and the number of medical options is increasing. However, options require choices. Just think: a terrible, but not fatal, accident occurs. You will continue to live, in a persistent vegetative state. Something you have never thought about, and certainly never wanted. Your partner knows this for a fact. Your offspring, however, say something quite different.

This, in a nutshell, is the breeding ground for a family feud; and at such a difficult time, too. You are caught in life, so to speak. And although you yourself have always been quite certain that you would not want to continue to live in such a situation, you are no longer able to express this sentiment. A living will could be the solution you are looking for. This legal document (notarial deed) allows a person to record their wishes with regard to situations where they are not or no longer able to act in their own interest, but are still alive. It is crucially different from a ‘conventional’ will, which is only effective upon death of the testator, whereas the living will is effective while the testator still lives.

Medical affairs What can be arranged in a living will? Among other things, a living will offers the opportunity to arrange medical affairs. For example: wishes regarding medical treatment, resuscitation yes or no after a certain age, ending life support upon clinical death? But such a document also allows you to arrange the donation of your body to science or organ donation, although this is also possible without involving a notary. However, including such matters in a living will removes any doubts on the subject, for the notary must ascertain that the person involved is fully capable of determining his or her wishes at the moment a living will is signed. This gives doctors and family members more certainty that that person was fully aware of the consequences of his or her decision at the time they laid down these instructions. Recording your wishes provides guidance and clarity for those close to you when they must take such often difficult decisions.

Financial affairs In addition to medical affairs, a living will may include a financial paragraph. By granting a power of attorney to a person of your choice you will enable that individual to take care of your financial affairs. This may include paying bills, filing a tax return or the sale of your home. You can even indicate that the person you give power of attorney may make gifts and to whom, for example annual gifts to your grandchildren. Are they to continue during your illness?

Finally, a living will may also contain personal wishes and guidelines. Who would you want to look after your pets? Or where can your family find your login codes for websites?

In short, a living will allows you to designate persons you trust and consider capable. They will look after your interests once you are no longer able to do so yourself. In this way, you will stay in control, and your affairs will be handled according to your wishes.