In the case of a severe incident, an individual can sustain many injuries and wind up in a persistent vegetative state. The person’s children, spouse and other family members are all at odds about whether to keep the person alive using ventilators or allow the person to naturally expire. Living wills can prevent this situation from ever occurring, according to legal experts, by making your wishes known to your family in the case of such a debilitating injury or illness.

Planning ahead is one of the best gifts you can give your family in times of crisis, say family and probate attorneys. By making sure everyone is aware of your wishes about your medical care, you can eliminate confusion and prevent conflict. Even if your family members do not agree with the provisions of your living will, they are legally bound to adhere to your wishes. If you do not want extraordinary measures taken to resuscitate you, for instance, hospital personnel are restricted from performing CPR.

Experts say that everyone over the age of 18 should have a living will, which is a formal document that has been approved through an attorney. The living will includes information about medical situations and treatments, and it can also designate a spokesperson for the injured person in case of emergencies. That is, if you are put on a ventilator and declared brain dead, you can designate a person to either pull the plug or allow medical care to continue.

Even though you may think of wills only in the traditional estate-planning context, attorneys stress the importance of living wills for all American adults. Tragic accidents happen every day, and living wills are no longer seen as documents restricted to terminal or elderly patients. The best thing you can do to help your family through your medical crisis is to craft a living will that makes your wishes known.

Luis E. Barreto