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Why Does a First Responder Need a Living Will?

TelephoneAlthough first responders experience illness, injuries and death every day, they still can be hesitant to create a living will for themselves. Nonetheless, it’s important.

EMS1.com recently posted a story, “Why EMS providers need living wills.” It explains that a living will—contrary to most other estate planning documents—has no authority after the creator of the document passes away. A living will or advance directive provides instructions about your end-of-life care. It can include as much or as little direction as you want, such as the use of pain-relieving treatments, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, life support and organ donation.

A living will helps your family members carry out your wishes.  However, it often doesn’t cover everything. For instance, if you don’t specify whether you’d want certain life-saving treatments like emergency surgery in the living will, you should have a trusted agent to act in your best interests and help you to carry out your wishes.

First responders need both a health care power of attorney and a living will. Due to the high risk of serious injury that comes with a first responders’ duties, it is even more imperative to have this advanced planning in place. In many states, the health care power of attorney is part of the living will. The agent or the “health care proxy” has the authority to act on behalf of the incapacitated first responder, if the first responder is incapable of making decisions on his or her own.

But why do I need a living will?

Be in control of your end-of-life decisions. Without a living will, the decisions to carry out your last wishes could be made by the court. In this situation, state law takes effect and dictates who will have a say in your well-being. A living will lets you control how decisions are made and who will make them.

Protect your life partner. Without a living will, the law will place the health care power of attorney in the hands of your spouse, and then your family. If you have a long-time partner, but are unmarried, your partner would have no say in any end-of-life decisions.

Select one of your children to assist. With a health care power of attorney, you eliminate confusion as to which of your children will make the decisions to enforce your living will and decisions on end-of-life care.

Peace of mind. A living will gives you and your loved ones comfort and peace of mind. This is a stressful time, and a living will helps smooth out the logistics and questions that will arise.

Organ donation. You can state your instructions for organ donations in a living will.

Without a living will, decisions can become difficult for family when a loved one is in a terminal state. Families are left wondering whether they made the right decision. Your living will lets you approve and announce your health care decisions beforehand, avoiding confusion and fighting.

Reference: EMS1.com (May 6, 2017) “Why EMS providers need living wills”

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