Like other states, Nevada allows its residents to make living wills, and many people in Henderson and other parts of the greater Las Vegas area do just that as part of their overall estate planning process.

For those who do not know, a living will is a document which a person signs so that doctors and family members have some idea as to what their final wishes are as they approach death. Living wills have nothing to do with how a person’s estate gets handled after they die; a “will” in the strict sense of the term or a trust will ordinarily cover that aspect of estate planning.

Specifically, a person can direct not to be given certain medical treatments in the event that death is imminent and treatments would only slow down the inevitable.

Although they often are a source of direction for family members during a difficult time, living wills can be the source of legal trouble akin to probate litigation for a number of reasons. For one, a doctor has some wiggle room when it comes to abiding by the living will or finding a physician who will do so.

While living wills are entitled to weight, other factors can play in to a doctor’s decision about what to do. Generally speaking, this will involve deferring to a persons’ designated health care representative or, if there is no such person, the family member who is legally responsible for making medical decisions in a pinch.

Particularly in a difficult time, family members and physicians can be at odds over how to apply a living will or whether it even really should be enforced in the present circumstances. Court orders, such as orders removing a health care representative or setting up a legal guardianship, may be necessary. Usually, an experienced probate litigation attorney is an essential part of this process.