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One of the seemingly-most obvious tenants of estate planning is that most of it will not come into effect until after your death. However, this is not always the case. 

A living will is something that may come in handy should you become incapacitated prior to death. According to the Mayo Clinic, a living will gives legal instructions to individuals regarding preferences for medical initiatives should you be in the position to not be able to make decisions for yourself.  

Why would this happen? 

There are many things that may medically incapacitate you, and the list of what is likely grows longer as you get older. A quintessential example is ending up in a car accident and thus in a coma. However, strokes and memory-related diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s can also put you in a position of not being able to advocate for your own medical needs. 

Having a living will in place will ensure that your particular desires are enacted. 

What can a living will do? 

Probably the most famous thing that a living will can do is give a directive as to whether medical personnel should “pull the plug” on you or not. Life support can be a very contentious subject for a family who is trying to make decisions about what to do with your health during a time when you may not be able to self-advocate. 

Particularly if you have specific wishes and you are aware that your family members may not honor those wishes, you need to have a living will. Living wills can also be helpful by giving your loved ones directives during a time which may be very stressful for them.