Berman & Asbel, LLP

Executing a living will now can eliminate emotional turmoil later

Medical television shows often capitalize off of a plot that occurs all too often in the real world. The situation: a patient waits on life support while a family argues over what should be done next. While it makes for great evening drama, it can be one of the most emotional and difficult scenarios for people who are not make-believe characters.

Whether a person becomes incapacitated in Pennsylvania due to a disease like Alzheimer's or they suffer a brain injury in a car accident, a family is the ones charged with making medical decisions for them -- and they often disagree.

Disputes over medical care do not mean that one family member loves the patient more than another. In fact, it often means that everyone involved loves them so much that they have a strong opinion on "what mom would want us to do."

Determining what another person would have wanted is not something that is easily done nor does a decision -- even made with love -- coincide with the actual desires of that person. Fighting over what should be done is not only stressful and exhausting for those involved, but it can cause undue tension between family members that can damage relationships.

So how do you avoid this from happening? A living will is one way to ensure that not only are your true intentions followed, but it can help your family avoid undue stress. A living will allows you to plan ahead for any unexpected event and provide specific instructions for your medical care.

Source:, " A living will can save families a lot of grief," Elaine F. Greer, July 29, 2012

If you want more information about living wills, our Pennsylvania estate planning page covers living wills and other estate planning issues.

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