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Family 411: Living wills

Wills, living wills and heathcare power of attorney are all more than just pieces of paper. They are the chance for you to make your wishes known ahead of illness or death. (WSYX)

COLUMBUS (WSYX) - Wills, living wills and heathcare power of attorney are all more than just pieces of paper. They are the chance for you to make your wishes known ahead of illness or death.

"All through life when I was a child, my mom always talked how she did not want to be hooked to machines. She made that very clear.” David Wayne remembered his mother’s words when that time did come around. By then, she had put her wishes in writing. "She was healthy and she had a massive stroke Nobody was expecting this.

David’s mother had a living will. "Once she got to the point that she was not going to recover, we knew because of her living will, that's what she wanted done.”

When his mother passed, Davis and his wife realized they should put their wishes on paper. "I thought if anything happens to me, I don't want to be connected to machines either.”

Attorney Hakim Ben Adjoua recommends that people have a will, a living will and healthcare power of attorney. Each one has its differences but they all protect your wishes. "We don't want to think about the end date for any of us but we all have a terminal date."

A healthcare power of attorney allows you to name a guardian, should you become incapacitated. 'You have Alzheimer's, you're still alive, you're still going, for some reason you're not competent to make your healthcare decisions on your own.”

A living will lets people know you don’t want your life prolonged artificially. "I don't want to get a breathing tube. I don't want to get IV. I want to die naturally. ”

A will allows you to pick someone to be in charge of your affairs. You can also decide who will get your possessions. "You determine who's going to get my house or stocks or bonds. You make these orders before you die so a court will enforce that.”

Adjoua stresses to choose someone you trust with your end of life plans. You should also choose who you want to care for your children. He also says it’s a good idea to divide up heirlooms before you die. "You have grandmother's wedding ring or you have dad's old Civil War rifle. Give those away before.”

Otherwise your family may end up squabbling over your stuff. “Sometimes the worst demons come out when people see death and then they see assets that can be obtained.”

David knows it can be a tough conversation for some but having a living will brings him relief. "Get it done and put it behind you. Then you can rest easy once it's done.”

The cost to prepare the documents can run from about five hundred dollars for basic paperwork, up to several thousand dollars for more complex issues.

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