Many people in New Jersey have opinions about what type of end-of-life care they’d like to receive. It is not always a pleasant topic to contemplate but it is one a person may feel strongly about. They can take steps to ensure their wishes are followed with regards to medical care if they are near death. This can be accomplished through the execution of a living will and an advanced medical directive.

A living will is a legal document wherein a person dictates what end-of-life medical care they wish to receive. This document will become effective once a person is near death and can no longer express what their preferences are, for example, if they are in a coma. Some people may want every effort made to extend their life, while others may wish to simply receive palliative care if they are suffering from a terminal illness. Living wills can be of benefit by allowing you to make these preferences known before you find yourself in a life-threatening situation.

An advanced medical directive, on the other hand, designates a specific individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. A living will only addresses what care you’d like to receive. An advanced medical directive appoints a person to make these critical decisions based on the contents of your living will. In addition, advanced medical directives become effective once a person is incapacitated, not just when a person is near death. If a person regains their health, the advanced medical directive will cease to be followed.

Because these are legal documents, it is important that they meet all the necessary criteria to be legally enforceable. This takes an understanding of elder law, which is a topic most people know little about. Thus, it can help to seek legal guidance if you with to execute such documents, to ensure they will accomplish what you intend them to accomplish.