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How Important is a Living Will in a COVID19 Emergency?

How Important is a Living Will in a COVID19 Emergency?

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the world as we know it. This virus has already claimed the lives of over 50,000 Americans, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the threat is going away any time soon. 

No one ever wants to think about what would happen if we were to become so critically ill that we couldn’t communicate our wishes. However, the possibility of this happening is more real today than ever before. As coronavirus cases continue to mount, doctors, attorneys, and financial advisors are all urging every American to ensure that they have created their essential legal documents, including a living will. 

What is a living will, and why is it so important right now? Here’s what you need to know. 

What is a Living Will?

First things first – a living will is a legal document that explains your personal choices about the procedures and medications you want (or don’t want) when it comes to end-of-life treatment. This document is often the only way for a person to communicate their wishes, as they may be unconscious or under anesthesia when the time to make the decision arises. 

It’s also important to understand what a living will is not. It’s not the same as a medical power of attorney (also known as a healthcare proxy). This is a document gives someone else the power to make medical decisions on your behalf. Many people choose to create both a living will and a healthcare proxy. 

What’s Included in a Living Will?

Your living will should include a summary of your wishes when it comes to the most common types of medical treatments. This often includes:

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – resuscitation if your heart stops beating.
  • Mechanical ventilation – intubation if you’re unable to breathe on your own.
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications – aggressive medical treatment of infections.
  • Dialysis – treatment for kidney failure
  • Tube feeding – nutrition and fluids provided intravenously or through a feeding tube placed in your stomach.
  • Comfort (palliative) care – this can cover a wide array of pain management and comfort interventions at the end of life. Some examples include avoiding invasive tests and treatments and being able to die at home.

For each of the items listed above, your living will should indicate whether you want to receive the treatment, and, for treatments like dialysis and tube feeding, how long you wish for it to continue. 

Your living will may also address whether you want to be an organ or tissue donor and if you would like to donate your body for scientific study after you die. 

When Does a Living Will Go into Effect?

If you have a living will in place, it’s important to make sure that your doctor has a copy so it can become a part of your medical records. If this hasn’t happened, you or someone else can also provide a copy when you arrive at the hospital or at any point up until the decisions have been made. 

For a living will to go into effect you must (1) still be alive, (2) be incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate, and (3) be in terminal condition (unlikely to recover). It’s also important to note that a living will overrides a medical power of attorney (POA). This means that if the person you’ve designated to make medical decisions on your behalf wants something different from what’s written in your living will, their request will be denied. 

Why a Living Will is So Important During COVID-19

A living will is an important document that everyone should have in place. Accidents and illnesses happen all the time, and having this document in place gives you extra peace of mind. However, during this COVID-19 crisis, it becomes even more critical. Here are a few reasons why. 

The Threat is Very Real

Unfortunately, no one is safe from this virus. There are documented cases in every state in the country, and it can affect people of all ages. Since the virus is often carried by people who don’t have any symptoms, you never know when you could be exposed. 

Many people put off creating important documents like this because they’re young and healthy and don’t see a need for it. Others don’t want to think about the possibility that they could become critically ill and possibly die, so they avoid the topic entirely. However, now is the time to face the fact that this threat is very real. 

It’s well known that COVID-19 causes life-threatening respiratory conditions and extended hospital stays. If you’re infected, there’s a very good chance that your healthcare providers will need to make some of these important decisions. You’ll want them to know your wishes when they do. 

Your Medical Power of Attorney Will Face New Challenges

If you have to go to the hospital for coronavirus treatment, there’s a very good chance that your loved ones won’t get to see you in person again until you’ve either recovered or passed away. Most hospitals are not allowing visitors, which will make it much more difficult for the person you’ve designated in your healthcare proxy to make sound decisions. 

Of course, he or she can be reached over the phone and can make decisions based on the information provided by your medical team. However, without being able to see your condition with their own eyes, each decision becomes that much harder. Having a living will on file gives your physicians the proper guidance and can take some stress off of your loved ones. 

Important Coronavirus Considerations 

If you don’t have a living will and a medical POA, now is the time to get these important documents in place. However, even if you do already have them, you may want to consider having them reviewed in light of a few unique circumstances created by the current coronavirus crisis. 

Communication Issues 

While most healthcare proxies give your medical POA broad authority regarding communication, it’s not a bad idea to add language that explicitly allows medical staff to communicate with your POA over the phone, by email, or through video conferencing. This will help avoid the possibility that problems could arise at a critical moment. 

Intubation Decisions 

The second issue is much more serious, and it involves the use of a ventilator. Many patients with severe cases of COVID-19 end up needing to be intubated. This allows a ventilator to provide your body with oxygen when you’re unable to breathe. 

While your living will may state that you do not wish to be intubated, technically this should only go into effect if you’re considered terminal, that is, if the doctors believe there is very little chance that you’ll recover.

In the case of COVID-19, there’s a possibility that you could go on a ventilator temporarily and then make a recovery. This means that the physicians are now faced with making decisions, hour-by-hour, regarding whether a patient who needs to be intubated actually has a chance of recovering. If the chances are slim, this is considered an invasive procedure and would often fall under the terms of the living will. 

On the other side, there’s the concern that you may not receive a ventilator when, in fact, you would have wanted one. This is particularly concerning in light of conversations about ventilator shortages and speculation that rationing could even come into play. It seems that this concern has passed in the United States at this time, but there’s always a chance it could arise again. 

Considering just how critical this issue is – often literally a matter of life or death – it makes sense to add language into your living will to make your wishes clear specifically in the case of a coronavirus diagnosis. This way, you can be 100 percent sure that your legal document reflects your true intent. 

In addition to ensuring that you’ve created or updated your living will and provided a copy to your physician, it’s also a good idea to talk to your loved ones about your wishes. Although this is an uncomfortable conversation to have, it’s extremely important, especially now. 

Create (or Review) Your Living Will Today!

If you don’t have a living will yet, now is the time to do it. It’s possible to create this document yourself using a form provided by your physician or local hospital or online legal document creation software.

If you choose any of these routes, however, you need to make sure you understand your state’s specific requirements. Some require a witness and/or notary, which could present a challenge during times of social distancing. In this case, however, it’s still better to have a document drawn up than to have nothing at all. Due to the extreme importance of this matter, many people choose to have an attorney draw up their documents instead.

Lilac City Law is here to help you should you decide that you need assistance. Give us a call at 509-624-1610 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. We’ll answer all of your questions and help ensure you have everything you need to protect yourself during this uncertain time.

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I highly recommend everyone at Lilac City Law. They helped me through every step of the SSDI process. Thank you so much!!
Scott Poe
Scott Poe
00:24 02 Jul 20
I don’t know really where to start in order to cover the magnitude of professionalism, understanding, persistence and compassion Lilac City law showed me. From Randi to each one of her staff-they worked very hard on my case and pushed me to keep fighting in the midst of several set backs from disability. They were always atop of communicating with me and all others involved. I highly recommend them and not just because I received a favorable decision but because of the plan they executed; so even if the results were unfavorable-I would still not hesitate knowing I chose the right practice. Thank you for you compassion and patience😊
Joyce Kelly
Joyce Kelly
22:01 02 Jun 20
Randi serves humanity with compassion and grace in dealing with all matters of life and death. I would highly recommend her for all the services she offers.
Sarah Boban
Sarah Boban
20:14 16 Apr 20
I wholeheartedly recommend these people. I had a crazy case and at times I was a mess. My team, Randy, Pam, David, and, Marissa always treated me with kindness and compassion. Thank you guys so much for the huge difference you've made in my life.
Jenni Boo
Jenni Boo
23:24 12 Mar 20
I had my hearing yesterday for Social Security Disability. I was very nervous , but we won my case. Randy and the whole team at Lilac Law was very supportive and understanding! They truly want to help people win the benefits they deserve and I highly recommend them!
Tiffani Pelella
Tiffani Pelella
17:38 03 Mar 20
Initial meeting with David Morris went well. He treated me with respect and understanding. I felt that I was listened to. Even accommodated me when I arrived 1 hour early. Highly recommended.
Tom Richardson
Tom Richardson
18:09 06 Feb 20
The staff is so great, it was really great to work with them all, and they were able to help me tremendously! Thank you for a great experience!
Becki Lynn
Becki Lynn
23:43 28 Jan 20
Don't remember exactly when I first met with them, but they were absolutely amazing to work with and only took a few months for my disability claim to be approved.I highly recommend Lilac City Law.
Matt Napora
Matt Napora
17:46 06 Jan 20
Everyone needs to take care of their estate and make sure their family is well taken care of. Randi and her team will take very good care of you and protect you and your family’s future. You cannot go wrong using their services. Client service is their top priority!
Kim Benjamin
Kim Benjamin
21:52 02 Nov 19
Randi is a terrific lawyer and a terrific person. I wish we lived closer so that we could work with clients together more often.
Meghan Freed
Meghan Freed
17:31 02 Nov 19
They really CARE about their clients and work with passion! Highly recommend!!!
Jamile Moraes Pellicer
Jamile Moraes Pellicer
00:36 30 Oct 19
Randi and her team are knowledgeable, compassionate, and very helpful with their clients. I highly recommend Lilac City Law!
Connie Kaplan
Connie Kaplan
18:36 29 Oct 19
Excellent firm. They really care about their clients. You cannot go wrong with Randi and her team.
John Nachlinger
John Nachlinger
12:27 18 Oct 19
What a great place! Thanks again!
S Binks
S Binks
22:39 01 Oct 19
Randi and her Team helped me through my disability claim and they were there through every question I had. Great Customer Service! Timely returned calls and emails, very knowledgeable and helpful the entire time and even afterwards! Will definitely be working with Randi and her Team in the future!
Ronda Wheatley Ives
Ronda Wheatley Ives
17:02 21 Aug 19
Wow, these guys were so nice and easy to work with. It ended up that they couldn’t help us with what we needed, but the gentleman we worked with went above and beyond my expectations, and more. I could tell that they really care about people there, not just cases. He was super patient in explaining things to me when I didn’t understand, it wasn’t a stressful experience as I thought it would be. Thanks for everything guys!
Melanie S
Melanie S
06:09 21 Aug 19
Lilac City Law is an incredible firm! I had the pleasure of working with the amazing team at Lilac City Law for nearly 2 years. Their team is absolutely remarkable! They are extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and overall compassionate when it comes to working with their clients. I sought their assistance nearly 2 years ago and have continued to work with them. I had a great deal of interaction with more than just one member of the Lilac City Law team and therefore can attest to the fact that this group of individuals is absolutely unparalleled. Attorney, Randi Johnson, is an exceptionally skilled lawyer as well as an overall remarkable woman! Her support staff is incredible as well, including Cassandra, Pam, Marissa, David, etc. with all of them by your side you have been blessed and are going to receive the best results possible. I would absolutely recommend seeking assistance from this law firm, as they have the ability to change lives; they definitely did mine. Thank you all so, so much!
Torrey Tolmie
Torrey Tolmie
17:03 22 May 19
Lilac City Law went above and beyond to help my partner get her SSI. My partner had been trying to win for 12 years and finally won. We can't say thank you enough. Thank You Randi and team for all you have done.
Malick Darian White
Malick Darian White
21:33 29 Apr 19
Randi and team are amazing! We previously had our will and other documents prepared by another firm in the Seattle area where we are from. I met with Randi to update areas of my trust and was soooooo impressed with how much more she provides than the firm who first helped me. I love the short term care directive that she provides and think it is amazingly thoughtful!! Thank you so much Randi Johnson!!
Noah Gross
Noah Gross
17:36 01 Feb 19
I had a great experience with Randi and her team this past year when we worked with them to create our first-ever wills and trust. Planning for your untimely death and discussing personal finances aren't always fun topics, but we were appreciative of Randi's approach to these potentially uncomfortable conversations and especially liked the recorded legacy interview she conducted with us. Total 5-star experience!
Tine Reese
Tine Reese
20:39 30 Jan 19
I had a great experience with Randi and her team this past year when we worked with them to create our first-ever wills and trust. Planning for your untimely death and discussing personal finances aren't always fun topics, but we were appreciative of Randi's approach to these potentially uncomfortable conversations and especially liked the recorded legacy interview she conducted with us. Total 5-star experience!
Tine Reese
Tine Reese
20:37 30 Jan 19
My husband and I worked with Randi and her team to complete our last will and testament, advanced directive, and health care proxy in the summer of 2018. Randi, and her team, as well as David Morris, were exceptionally kind, very professional, and thorough. We had several meetings to go through the important stuff - the financial info, heirlooms, and disposition of my husband's motorcycle. At each meeting, Randi and her team listened to our intentions and concerns. At the signing ceremony, we got a huge binder with our info and a data stick for safekeeping. Included in our will is a review which will take place every other year. We also got a document which states who can take our children to give our babysitter in case something bad happens to us when we were out. I'm very satisfied with Lilac City Law, and their work. I would recommend them without qualification to anyone.
Anna Marie Martin
Anna Marie Martin
23:52 29 Jan 19
Parents are so intentional about so many aspects of their children's lives. Few will forgo putting together a will. But, what if you don't die? What if you are just incapacitated? Are you prepared for the unexpected? Are you leaving your children at risk? If someone else does raise them, do you know that they will be raised according to your wishes? Have you even thought through what your wishes are? All these questions and more will be covered in the process of completing a Family Protection Plan with Randi Johnson at Lilac City Law. Having our Family Protection Plan in place gives me an incredible sense of comfort and peace of mind. I highly recommend Randi and the staff at Lilac City Law. Hopefully you never need her services, but isn't it better to be prepared than to leave things to chance?
Marchauna Rodgers
Marchauna Rodgers
03:16 22 Jan 19
My Husband and I were fortunate to work with Randi on his disability case-she mindfully guided us through that process -we were so pleased with the results that Lilac City Law was of course our choice to have when producing our family trust. Again a very professional, heartfelt experience that made what seems to be a difficult process very easy thanks to Randi and her staff. We always recommend Randi to our community of friends and family. Pat and Patty Murphy
Patty Murphy
Patty Murphy
20:05 12 Jan 19
I became ill over two years ago now,at the age of 29.. I experienced seizure like movements that lasted for hours or even days at a time. The doctors were at a loss for a diagnosis so they called it a mental disorder. As I was unable to care for myself most days or work, I applied for social security and was denied. I sought the help of Lilac City Law, and was immediately greeted with compassion and action. My case was a hard one to win or prove. Amy Santa helped me and explained everything to me step by step.. She ALWAYS answered my questions and showed immense sympathy for all I was going through. My case went to trial and Amy was amazing in court and won me the benefits I so desperately needed. This process was so difficult and overwhelming on my own.. I couldn’t have done it without these amazing people and thanks to them I can focus on improving my health,and not worry about my family struggling. I’m thankful and very blessed to have had them on my side! Sincerely, Ashley Schauble
Ashley Baldwin
Ashley Baldwin
01:33 11 Jan 19
Lilac City Law did an amazing job with my estate plan, which was something I had 'thought' about doing for a long time, but avoided... Fortunately, Randi and her team made the process very easy and approachable. I now feel relief knowing everything is in order for my two daughters in the (hopefully unlikely!) event something were to happen to me. Thank you Lilac City Law for helping me sleep better at night! :)
Amber McKenzie
Amber McKenzie
03:30 09 Jan 19
This has been an awesome experience from beginning to end. Randi and her team were super helpful in helping us wrestle through all the aspects of our estate plan. Randi’s knowledge of estate and wills were very obvious from the beginning and we are thankful for her and her staffs expertise. Thank you so much!
Kevin Bunce
Kevin Bunce
17:22 12 Dec 18
This firm is the go-to for family planning and protection your children. Randi and her team are excellent!
Melinda Grimaldi
Melinda Grimaldi
01:49 20 Nov 18
I needed to get my husband's advanced health directive for a procedure he was having and it was so easy to find in our perfectly tabbed out legal binder. I found it right away, made a copy and stored it right back in the binder. Thanks for making us get it, and for making it easy to find and understand.
Jessica Gruver Koefod
Jessica Gruver Koefod
19:40 12 Oct 18
I highly recommend this law firm. They have the experience and skills to help people with their plans and their future. From their work with others, they take a pragmatic approach to law and don't over complicate things unnecessarily. With that said, if a matter is complex they are very capable of handling it.
Christine Matus
Christine Matus
09:29 05 Sep 18
Randi demonstrates a beautiful balance of expertise and compassion while dealing with difficult circumstances. I'm very thankful we had her in our corner! I can't reccomend her strongly enough.
Darin Pike
Darin Pike
16:47 25 Jul 18
Randi and her staff are the best! They help you with your case and are there if you have any questions.I highly recommend them!
Tammy Reedy
Tammy Reedy
21:56 18 Jul 18
Randi did a wonderful job of asking simple questions to help us determine exactly what type of trust we needed to match our goals. Thank you so much, Randi, for taking time out of your busy schedule to get us were we need to be!
Michelle Darnell
Michelle Darnell
02:52 17 Jun 18
Such a great meeting today with Randi. Tell me who wants to talk about wills and final arrangements, right? Well, my husband and I did this today and Randi, you made it easier than we expected. What a blessing to work with such talent and know you have our backs. Between you and Cary Wong. We will be sitting pretty, no matter what life brings us. THANK YOU!
Missy Schaaf
Missy Schaaf
01:20 31 Mar 18
Vincent Adolph
Vincent Adolph
13:30 26 Feb 18
Randi and her staff are great to work with - no surprises, and she made it all so easy. Now we have a will and health directives, so our children won't be burdened when the time comes. I highly recommend!
Sharon Robertson
Sharon Robertson
18:04 05 Feb 18
Randi and her team do amazing work. Thank you very much for what you do.
Erin Whitney-Neher
Erin Whitney-Neher
20:18 23 Jan 18
Randi are her staff are amazing! They are all very knowledgable, helpful and passionate about serving others. Every step of services are explained clearly and follow-up exceeded expectations. In addition, Randi is active in the community and regularly volunteers her time and talents putting on presentations focusing on educating others on specific topics. She has a passion for assisting those with special needs or situations. For legal assistance with heart, Lilac City Law is highly recommended!
Nadine Burgess
Nadine Burgess
18:14 25 Apr 17
Excellent staff. Very knowledgeable and go out of their way to get the job done! Would recommend to anyone looking for services they offer!
Jason Spade
Jason Spade
02:17 19 Oct 16
Randi was an excellent attorney. Her staff was excellent as well. I was treated with kindness, compassion and dedication towards winning my complex and difficult case, which ultimately happened. I am very happy that I chose Lilac City Law to represent me. I would highly recommend them!!!
Richard D. Seibert
Richard D. Seibert
15:56 03 Oct 16
Melanie Jason Carter
Melanie Jason Carter
06:46 01 Sep 16
Mia Martinez-Bermudez
Mia Martinez-Bermudez
04:22 30 Jul 16
Candice Pinares-Baez
Candice Pinares-Baez
11:00 13 Aug 14