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The Coronavirus and Your Living Will

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As of the date of this article, it has been a little more than 100 days since the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus a pandemic. During that time many things have changed. The way we shop, eat out, find entertainment, work and play are all different now than they were a hundred days ago.

For a short time, based on the efforts of governments and individuals the Coronavirus appeared to be diminishing. However, recently the Coronavirus seems to be resurging with numerous outbreaks and flare-ups in many cities and locations throughout the world. An objective view in looking back on these one hundred days evidences that this pandemic, and the Coronavirus will likely be with us for some time into the future. In other words, the changes we’ve experienced in our lives appear to be here to stay for some time. We may also have other changes that we have to make as well.

One of the major changes that clients are considering when it comes to estate planning has to do with their living will. The purpose of this article is to discuss things that you should consider when creating or updating your own living will during the Coronavirus pandemic. If you have a living will but you haven’t looked it over in sometime, or if you do not have a living will, we encourage you to download our free Estate Planning Questionnaire to help you get started. We also offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your estate-planning questions and help you determine what estate planning options you feel you need to complete. This would include a discussion about the uses and importance of having an updated living will.

Purposes of a Living Will

A living will, sometimes also known as a healthcare directive, is the document that you use to provide specific directions to your doctors and other healthcare providers if you are not able to communicate your medical wishes and you are on life support. In this circumstance, the directions that you leave in your living will, will be the directions followed by your doctors.

Choices and Options

Because you are the person who is creating your living will, you have the ability to be very specific about the choices you are making. In other words, you are in complete control of determining what will and will not happen if you cannot communicate your medical wishes and you are on life support.

You have several choices that you can make when it comes to leaving instructions on your living will. The first choice is that you can direct your doctors and healthcare providers to do everything they can to keep you alive as long as possible. This means that they will put you on every machine, they will try every medicine, and every medical procedure available to keep you alive. If you were to flatline, they will make every effort to resuscitate you.

A second choice that you can make is that you can direct that your doctors not take any life-saving measures to help you other than providing you with nutrition or hydration or both. Many people who have had loved ones in a hospital situation have seen them deteriorate over weeks mainly because they had neither hydration nor nutrition through IVs. They do not want the same situation to happen to them.

A third choice that you can make is what I usually call the “pull the plug” option. In this situation, you would leave directions that your doctors are not to take any life-saving measures to help you including turning off all life support machines and withdrawing or withholding any IVs other than for pain and distress.

Additional Considerations Due to the Coronavirus

Now, some additional things to consider during the Coronavirus pandemic. We have come to learn that this virus has a devastating impact on a person’s respiratory system. Doctors and healthcare workers are divided on whether intubation and respirators are helpful or not to individuals who are in critical condition because of the Coronavirus.

If you choose, we are able to provide specific instructions in your living will directly related to the Coronavirus and treatments that you either may or may not want to receive if you become infected with this disease and are being treated in a hospital. These are some of the items that we discuss with you during our free 30-minute consultation which we encourage you to schedule.

If you already have an estate plan, but you haven’t reviewed it in some time, or if you have no estate plan at all, we encourage you to contact us immediately. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation where we can talk with you about your estate planning options, including your living will, and answer your questions. We are confident that doing this will be a benefit to you, your family, and your loved ones.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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