The Importance of a Living Will

Legal documents
Talking about death and dying with your family members is never something you want to do. It can be uncomfortable and bring up thoughts no one wants to think before they absolutely have to. However, making your beliefs clear to your loved ones and/or finding out what your loved ones thoughts are, is one of the most important things you can do for your family.

My father passed away recently and his having a living will made a difficult time more bearable for my mother and me. We had all talked about what we would want if the worst happened and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt how my dad would have felt. Living wills are a type of advance directive – other advance directive terms you may have heard are medical directive or medical power of attorney. The Mayo Clinic has a good, easy-to-understand overview of the types of advance directives and what each does.

The Mercer County Surrogate’s office makes Living Will Kits available. You may pick one up at the Surrogate’s Office (175 South Broad Street, Trenton), the County Connection (Hamilton Square Shopping Center at Highway 33 and Paxson Avenue, Hamilton) and at the Hopewell Branch Library. Each kit contains a letter from the Surrogate, an informational guide, a checklist of questions to ask yourself and a combined Advance Directive for Health Care. As stated in the letter from the Surrogate’s office, you may wish to consult your attorney should you need legal advice.

The State of New Jersey also provides Advance Directive information through the Department of Health’s website. In addition to forms, they give answers to common questions and links to resources for families and individuals.

The Mercer County Library System has informational books about Living Wills and general estate planning. Browse the 346.7305 section of your local branch’s adult nonfiction section or place holds for titles such as:

A Better Way of Dying by Jeanne Fitzpatrick, The Conversation by Angelo Volandes, Jane Brody’s Guide to the Great Beyond by Jane E. Brody
A Better Way of Dying by Jeanne Fitzpatrick

The Conversation by Angelo Volandes

Jane Brody’s Guide to the Great Beyond by Jane E. Brody

The Quick & Legal Will Book by Denis Clifford,  Quicken WillMaker Plus by Nolo
The Quick & Legal Will Book by Denis Clifford

Quicken WillMaker Plus by Nolo

No matter what your personal choices are, make your wishes clear to your family and friends. You can feel comfortable knowing that the people who matter most to you understand what you want and that their knowing may make a difficult time in their lives a little bit easier.

-Andrea at the Hopewell Branch 


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