Living Will

Introduction

Today, life support systems can keep an individual's body alive for years, even if the brain is no longer functioning or the person is in constant pain. 

As competent adults, we have a constitutional right to make advance decisions as to whether or not we would like to decline life support when it is clear that death is imminent or a state of coma or vegetation becomes permanent. 

A living will is a document, which states whether or not you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill or are in a persistent vegetative state. In addition, it addresses other important issues such as tube feeding, artificial hydration and pain medication. A living will is only effective if you are unable to communicate your desires on your own. 

Just as importantly, a living will can indicate your desire to remain on life support. Whatever your decision, as the Terri Schiavo case has shown, the key is to put your wishes in writing. If you would like to create a legal and binding living, Certified Document Solutions can help.

 

Living Will

A living will is a document outlining very specific medical instructions that apply while you are still alive, but are unable to communicate your wishes. Unlike a typical Last Will and Testament, it really has nothing to do with how you want your property divided when you die. It simply states that you do, or do not, want artificial life support if you become either:

1.     Terminally ill and will die within a short period of time without life support, or

2.     In an irreversible coma or vegetative state.

A living will also allows you to make decisions regarding whether or not you would like to receive pain medication and artificial nutrition. In addition, you can indicate special wishes or instructions. For example, some people may want to remain on life support for only a certain period of time.

 

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care agent is a person who you have a close relationship with and can trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make decisions. A legal document, which appoints a health care agent, is sometimes known as a "health care power of attorney." 

Unlike the provisions of a standard living will, an agent is able to make decisions on your behalf even if you are not terminally ill or in an irreversible coma, so long as you are not able to make these decisions on your own. In addition, it provides a back-up in case a hospital does not fully honor your intentions in the living will. In some cases, the provisions of a living will are combined with the health care power of attorney. The Certified Document Solutions Living Will allows you to combine a living will with the appointment of a health care agent. In addition, it will nominate an alternate health care agent should your first choice be unable to serve.

 

Canceling the Living Will

A living will can be cancelled or revoked. You can revoke your living will at any time without regard to your mental or physical condition. A revocation is effective upon its communication to the attending physician or other health care provider by you or anyone who witnessed you revoke your living will.

 

Witnesses

Because of the gravity of this decision and its potential result, witnesses are required to verify that a living will document states the true intentions of the maker. Also, the witnesses must not have any stake in your estate, i.e. they must be someone you do not intend to give something to after your death.

 

Pregnancy

Most state laws do not allow you to refuse life-prolonging medical procedures if you are pregnant at the time of your medical need. Thus, the document will most likely be cancelled unless there is absolutely no chance that the fetus will survive.

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Certified Document Services (CDS) prepares legal documents for non-lawyers in their own legal actions. CDS offers no legal advice, recommendations, mediation or counseling under any circumstance. CDS are not Lawyers, are not employed by a Lawyer, cannot give any legal advice and our employees are not acting as your Attorney. CDS can give you general factual information pertaining to legal rights, procedures or options available to you in a legal matter when you are not represented by an attorney. CDS cannot give you specific advice, opinions or recommendations about your legal rights, remedies, defenses, or strategies.