Do You Do Living Wills? : Tales From The Trenches

Do You Do Living Wills?

by Barbara Clark on 08/13/12

This was a question that a woman asked when I answered the phone at our office last week.  My answer was, Certainly.  Next, she wanted to know how much I charge for a Living Will.  At this point I was on shaky ground.  Why?  Because: 1) I do not  actually draft a document called a Living Will; and 2) my experience is that there is quite a bit of confusion as to exactly what a Living Will is.  The term Living Will is used primarily to describe a document that concerns artificial life support, but I have at times had clients call my office asking to have their Living Wills changed to create an additional legacy at their death. On other occasions, they have asked to have one created to give a child access to their financial accounts, or they believe they need one to allow someone to make medical decisions for them when undergoing surgery.

 A short conversation with a client is all it takes for us to get on the same page, which is why I answered Certainly when the potential client called last week. I just was not sure yet whether she needed a Last Will and Testament-version of the Living Will or a Directive to Physicians-version of the Living Will or well, you get the idea. Oh, and if she had asked if I do Pull the Plug Orders, my answer would have been Certainly to that too. 

Just in case you want to know, here are the technical terms in Texas for documents clients sometimes call Living Wills (and other things):

1. Last Will and Testament  leaves your property to someone when you die;

2. Directive to Physicians  states your desires about remaining on life support;

3. Power of Attorney  designates someone as your financial agent during your lifetime; and

4. Health Care Power of Attorney  allows someone you designate to make health care decisions for you if you can not make them for yourself.

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   Barbara Priddy Clark

Barbara is a partner in the Clark Law Firm in Dallas,Texas.

She is a transactional Attroney primarily practicing Estate Planning and Probate Law. 

Barbara's Law partner is also her life partner and husband, John Clark, who has a transactional Business Law practice.

Barbara and John are empty nesters with the only children living at home being of the four footed variety (one dog and one cat.)