A living will may no longer serve its purpose in Washington

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Estate Planning

For decades, living wills helped give people control in the event of a medical emergency. People engaged in estate planning could choose to draft a living will as a way of determining what medical care they receive in an emergency.

Many people only ever sit down to tackle estate planning needs one time in their lives. Particularly if someone created an estate plan years ago when they first got married or had children, they could have outdated documents that require revision. If someone’s estate plan includes a living will, that is a likely indicator that they may need to revisit their estate plan and make a few updates.

Living wills are now advance health care directives

Washington no longer has living wills as a standard option for those facing medical incapacity. The state has long since transitioned to advance health care directives. These documents are quite similar in nature to living wills.

Advance directives give someone an opportunity to clarify what types of care they want to receive. People can talk about end-of-life care, life support and even anatomical gifts. Much of what someone previously addressed in a living will could be part of a more modern advance health care directive.

The decision to update the documents to make them compliant with current Washington rules helps ensure that someone derives the support they expect from their living documents. Outdated paperwork may not hold up in court, especially if issues about someone’s healthcare lead to conflicts among their family members.

Additionally, there’s a good chance that someone’s wishes regarding their medical support may have changed as they continued to age. Someone previously desired extensive intervention may now have different preferences as they approach their retirement years.

Equally important is the chance that the people empowered to make medical choices or the factors an individual wants those people to consider may have changed as well. Even if someone technically has the correct modern documents in place, they might still benefit from reviewing and updating their advance health care directive every few years.

Understanding that estate plans may require modification as personal circumstances change can help people optimize the support they derive from their health care directives. Adults who occasionally review and change their testamentary and living documents can feel more secure about their protection regardless of how life changes.