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A will is a document you might use to ensure that the assets in your Tennessee estate pass to the appropriate beneficiaries upon your death. So what, you may wonder, is the purpose of a living will? The American Bar Association explains the nature of a living will and why one might use this type of document.

A living will is a written document that details to your loved ones how you wish for them to proceed in certain medical circumstances. Though the language of state laws vary, a living will generally allows you to express whether you wish for a medical provider to feed you sustenance through intravenous devices if you are unable to feed yourself; whether you wish for a doctor or other health care professional to administer life-sustaining treatments in the event that you become terminally ill or critically injured; and to give other guidance regarding your care, including end-of-life care.

“Life-sustaining treatments” involve the use of medical techniques and machinery designed to sustain and possibly prolong one’s life but that do not necessarily cure a condition. Some such treatments involve the use of ventilators, heart-lung machines and other medical equipment.

Though this document is necessary in that it allows you to maintain control even when you are unable to physically express your wishes, it is important that you do not sign this type of document without first educating yourself on the implications of your wishes. For instance, many living wills include language that prohibits the use of assisted breathing machines. However, you may presently utilize an assisted breathing machine to manage, say, your COPD. If you sign a document that forbids the use of such machinery, you unwittingly create serious health complications for yourself in the future.

Moreover, living wills create serious religious and philosophical implications. Be sure that the document you sign is consistent with your personal beliefs.

This content in this article is designed to be purely educational. You should not construe it as legal advice.