The Basics of the Living Will And How It Works
What is a Living Will?
LIving Wills and Advance Medical Directives
The Living Will - Right and Privilege
Do It Yourself Legal Forms
Questions About Advance Directives and Living Wills
Planning for the Future
Making a Living Will
Advantages of Living Wills and Living Trusts
Contents of Living Wills
Living Wills and Power of Attorney
The overall concept of a "living will" may not be very clear to a great many people. Some may even confuse it with the "last will and testament", which is a completely different type of legal document. In point of fact, a living will is more like a "power of attorney", and, just to confuse things, can co-exist WITH a last will and testament!.
The primary purpose of a living will is to make it possible for you
– the maker or owner – to formulate decisions in
advance with regard to your wishes pertaining to medical treatment or
life support, and lawfully be able to command the health care team to
carry out your wishes in that regard even if when the time comes you
are no longer able to do so for yourself.
Because of constant advances in the fields of medicine and
health care, doctors are now more often able to sustain life than
in previous eras...even if it means the victim risks being in a
permanently vegetative condition.
This is one of the primary reasons that the living will has become such a necessity in our modern world.
Not all people like the idea of remaining in an almost lifeless state for an indefinite period of time.
More often than not, the notion of extending life even when death is just around the corner seems emotionally excruciating for both the family and the patient. It's just a way of prolonging the suffering while not allowing anyone to move on.
A living will is a document, often available in a do-it-yourself legal
form or software, which makes it possible for you to decide whether
life-sustaining measures and medical treatment should be continued or
withheld in the event that you have reached a state where you cannot
make your wishes known. The directive may also include information and
guidance for loved ones, including, for example, a refusal to take
artificial feeding. Additionally, while still sound of mind and body,
you may express other specific wishes before you
become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for your health care.
In order for a living will to be legally binding, the appropriate form
must be used and it must be accomplished in conformity with applicable
state laws on the subject of living wills. A number of states require
the presence and signatures of two valid witnesses, the attendance of a
Notary Public, or both, for example, and failure to complete the
right documents in the proper manner can make a living will useless.
This is why choosing the appropriate living will software, or
do-it-yourself legal forms, is of prime importance. Since the
rules vary from state to state, make sure you do your research before
you plunk your money down.
In the event the living will form requires the appointment of a patient advocate, he
or she must not be any of the two witnesses. Your advocate should carry
the burden of deciding for your health care and medical treatment in
the unfortunate case of your incapacity to make the
decision yourself. This person is also sometimes
known as a health care representative. He or she may be a spouse, a daughter or
son, other family member, friend, or any significant person
whom you trust to handle such matters for you when you cannot.
A living will only becomes effective when its creator is no
longer capable of making decisions with regard to medical treatment.
This may be in the case of a terminal illness, permanent
unconsciousness or coma, inability to communicate, mental incapacity,
or vegetative condition as a result of accident, illness, or even unknown causes.
In the unfortunate event of any of these situations, the health care provider...a
hospital, hospice, or nursing home...must be provided
with a copy of the advance
directive. As the name implies, an advance directive is
the document which tells your doctor what kind of care you would like
to receive should you become unable to make medical decisions for
yourself. The instructions contained within this legal
document will serve as the basis for decisions concerning the
continuation or withdrawal of medical treatment and other
The health care team, specifically the attending physician, is legally bound to follow the directives
indicated on a living will. However, although it is most certainly a
legal document which binds the health care team to respect the wishes
of the maker, the maker may also choose to revoke or change the
contents of the will at any time prior to becoming debilitated.
Just as with the initial preparation, the proper procedures for the
revocation of a living will should be followed to make the act
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Page Updated 2:48 AM Friday 12/19/2014