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Without Knowing Your Options

Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

You may be surprised to learn that a living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive in California, is not really a will at all. A living will is a legal document that is meant to communicate your wishes in certain medical situations where you may not be able to communicate yourself.

If you slip into a coma after a car accident, for example, and you cannot tell anyone that you would like to remain on life support, a living will allows doctors to understand your preferences while you are incapacitated.

What can you include in a living will?

Many people mistakenly believe that a living will is only useful in cases where you would like to deny medical treatment. While people certainly do use living wills in this manner, you may also specify which medical treatments you would like to receive, or that you would like to receive all treatments available.

When is a living will effective?

According to FindLaw, a living will only becomes effective if a doctor determines that you are unable to communicate your treatment preferences because you are either terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state. Additionally, living wills are not valid in California if you are pregnant at the time because the doctor will prioritize the life of your baby.

While it may be difficult to think about what you want to happen if you are ever in a situation where you cannot make medical decisions for yourself, it is an important part of ensuring that others respect your wishes. Additionally, it may help prevent bickering amongst family members who all want different things.

If you chose to stay home while your spouse worked during your marriage, you may have some valid concerns about your ability to support yourself after your marriage ends. Fortunately, if you meet specific factors, a judge may decide to award you spousal support to help you better manage your post-divorce finances. 

Sometimes called alimony, spousal support is money your ex-spouse gives you either temporarily or permanently. If you qualify for spousal support, you have some options for collecting it. Taking one-time lump-sum payment may make sense for three reasons. 

1. You receive a large sum of money

If you do not have savings or much cash after your marriage ends, a lump-sum spousal support payment may help you fund a relocation, buy a house or pay for other significant expenses. By contrast, if you opt for monthly payments, you may have to save for months or longer to have a large sum of money at your disposal. 

2. You remove uncertainty

Even though your ex-spouse currently may have the financial means to make any type of alimony payments, circumstances may change. If your ex-husband or -wife loses his or her job or experiences any other type of financial decline, a judge may reduce alimony payments or eliminate them altogether. 

If you take a lump-sum payment, that simply cannot happen. 

3. You move on with your life

If you had an acrimonious marriage, you may never want to hear from your ex-spouse again. Receiving monthly support payments, though, may serve as an unpleasant reminder of your marriage or divorce. 

Whether lump-sum alimony is right for you ultimately depends on your circumstances and your goals. Still, simply to move on with your life, you may want to take a lump-sum buyout.