In Tennessee, “Every person has the fundamental and inherent right to die naturally with as much dignity as circumstances permit and to accept, refuse, withdraw from or otherwise control decisions relating to the rendering of the person’s own medical care.” A living will is the document prepared to state your directive regarding these issues. In this document you can also indicate whether you wish to donate organs at the time of your death. Executing this document prior to such a situation removes the necessity of your family having to make these decisions.
A Last Will and Testament or simply a “Will” is a written document properly executed with the formalities required for making a Will which appoints a personal representative and instructs that representative how you want your property distributed at your death. Any person of sound mind and eighteen (18) years of age or older may make a Will. Wills may be handwritten or typed, but both have specific rules/laws that determine whether the Will is valid. If you die without a Will, your estate will pass to your lawful heirs by descent and distribution—a method determined by the state not you. In this method the state has predetermined the amount and the manner in which your property would be distributed to your heirs.
Power of Attorney
A very important document. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you. An accident or illness may limit or eliminate your ability to make decisions or take action for yourself. By having a Power of Attorney, you determine who will act on your behalf. The authority of the Power of Attorney can be limited to specific issues like representing you at a real estate closing or could be very broad allowing this person to make all financial and/or medical decisions for you. If you do not make preparation for this possibility, your family may be forced to ask a court of law to name a conservator for you. At that point, you would have lost all control. Powers of Attorney and Conservatorships end at your death.