In the state of Massachusetts, a living will is a suggested supplement and companion document for your healthcare proxy. While your healthcare proxy is the official document that allows you to name individuals who you wish to help you in the event that you’re unable to make healthcare decisions on your own, your living will is the document that actually outlines what those wishes are, should those agents need to take action.
Use a Living Will for Your Unique Wishes and Needs
Your living will is highly personalized and tailored specifically to your individual needs. Remember that these needs and wishes may change over the course of your life or as your health situation changes. This is why it’s a good idea to set aside time to review your living will annually and to update it as needed. There are several different times that you may wish to update your living will outside of an annual review. These include:
- When you are preparing for the birth of a child
- When you have had a major change in your health or a significant diagnosis
- On milestone birthdays ending in a five or a zero
- If you can’t remember what your living will outlines
- When a family member has recently gone through a health crisis and you want to ensure that your own documents help prepare for situations that may have happened
- Before you go to surgery
- After hearing a media story about where not having a living will impacted an individual and you want to make sure that a similar challenge won’t make life difficult for your family.
It’s never a good idea to attempt to write a living will on your own. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to be sure that all of your needs are addressed properly. Do not hesitate to get help as soon as possible in this situation.
Why Tax Time is the Perfect Window for Reviewing Your Will
When you’re going through your financial paperwork for the last year and preparing to file your taxes, it’s a good idea to take a look at any other legal documents that you have to ensure that they are written properly and still carry out the wishes that you want.
What Should I Review at Tax Time?
Some examples could include beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and your will. Make sure that the individuals you have named in any official estate planning documents are still willing and available to help.
Life Changes and the Passage of Time Necessitate Review
Things might have changed in your life over the course of the past year and these changes should be reflected in your estate planning documents. For example, one common area that is overlooked after an individual goes through a divorce is updating all of the beneficiary designations and estate planning documents that name your former spouse as an authorized agent. Of course, after a divorce you will want to update these but this is not the only event in your life that warrants a significant change.
Accomplish All Your Review at Once
Getting all of your paperwork out of the way at the same time ensures that you don’t have to think about it for a while and gives you the peace of mind that you know your documents are there to protect you and your needs for the year to come. Set up a consultation with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to talk more about making these changes to your documents.