By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years, one of the conversations I have with my clients about their estate planning documents is the fact that the last will and testament is not the most important document they can have. To be sure, the last will and testament is important, but it only becomes valid after a person dies. For this reason, the last will and testament really has no impact on a person while they are alive. Rather, the other documents that should be included as part of a basic estate plan could have an impact on each person while they are alive which makes them far more important. These documents include a durable power of attorney, a power of attorney for health care, and the document that is the focus of this article which is the living will.
Some people call the living will a healthcare directive. These documents are pretty much the same thing. They give you the ability to provide specific instructions to your doctors and healthcare providers if you are ever in a situation where you are on life support. The instructions you leave can tell your doctors whether you do want to be kept on life support, or whether you want them to turn those machines off and let you have a normal and natural death.