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The importance of having a living will, even if you're young

While many Americans age 65 and older have wills in place, few take time to have an advance directive, also known as a living will, as well.

Even fewer people from younger generations have them. They often believe that there's no need to do so as they don't anticipate becoming incapacitated, or unable to make their own medical decisions themselves. They often don't stop to consider the angst it causes their loved ones by forcing them to render decisions for them.

A recent survey conducted by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys suggests that, among young adults between the ages of 18 and 29, just 7 percent have taken time to draft advance directives. A spokesperson for the organization argues that this statistic is alarming because it's at the age of 18 that an individual gains the right to begin making his or her own medical decisions in lieu of someone else.

This is one of the reasons that they advocate that all college-bound 18-year-olds should make sure to draft a health care proxy prior to heading off to college. They should sign a medical release in the form of a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) as well.

By signing both of these, it allows for you to voice your desires as to medical treatment you'd want to receive if you were ever involved in an emergency situation and couldn't do so yourself.

Without a living will in place, decisions about whether and for how long you should be subjected to life-saving interventions and other potentially life-altering medical decisions would be left up to others. In most jurisdictions, doctors or others who know nothing about you would be making critical health decisions for you that may forever impact your lifestyle.

Whether you're headed off to college or you're simply a young professional, drafting a living will can allow you to continue living your life on your own terms. A St. George estate planning attorney can advise you as to what to include in your own health care proxy to ensure that your wishes are upheld should you be unable to do so yourself.

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