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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.

The importance of having a living will, keep the light recently what I read an article about Denise Nickerson. Miss Dickerson was the child actress who appeared in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie as the gum chewing character Violet back in the early 70s. Who can forget the Fantastic scene where Violet takes the brand new chewing gum developed by Willy Wonka and begins chewing it. She describes an entire three-course meal that ends with a blueberry pie. Has she’s describing the blueberry pie she inflates, turns violent, and becomes a human blueberry.

Miss Nickerson continued to be an actress through several more years of her childhood and then gave up acting and became a nurse. Is Judah 2018 she suffered a stroke and was placed on life support and was receiving full-time care. Having experienced a major medical emergency the family made the decision to turn off her life-support and allow her to pass away. As a result, she died on July 11th, 2019.

In reading any of the articles that talk about this experience you will see that the decision about whether the turn the life-support off or not, fell directly on the shoulders of Miss Nickerson’s family. If she had created an estate plan including a living will, she would have been able to have made that decision herself. This is the point of this particular blog which is that most people want to keep this decision making process for themselves rather than placing this burden on the shoulders of their family. Through living well, you have the ability to be specific about your desire to not be placed on life support in the first place. Also, if you are in a circumstance where you are placed on life support your living will can provide specific directions indicating that you want yet to be turned off immediately. Again, it is your life, and as a result, the decision should be yours to make.

We have helped numerous clients complete their own personal estate planning. We specifically take the time to go through the importance of a living will with each of our clients. If you have questions or concerns about your own estate planning, including a living will, we can help you too.


If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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