Living Will Information

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 Living Will Information   

Living Will

A Living Will is a document that allows a person to explain in writing which medical treatment he or she does or does not want during a terminal illness. A Living Will takes effect only when the patient is incapacitated and can no longer express his or her wishes. The will states which medical treatments may be used and which may not be used to die naturally and without the patient?s life being artificially prolonged by various medical procedures.

Sample (PDF)     For  Legal and other Forms click here

Living Will Information

Although the term Living Will may indicate that it is a Will, in reality, it is more similar to a Power of Attorney than a Will. Therefore, don't be confused by the title of the document. The purpose of a living will is to allow you to make decisions about life support and direct others to implement your desires in that regard.

Living Wills are needed because advances in medicine allow doctors to prolong and sustain life although the person will not recover from a persistent vegetative state. Some people would not desire to remain in that state while others would. Extending life when death is imminent to some people is only extending the suffering and prolonging of the dying process. The Living Will allows you to make the decision of whether life-prolonging medical or surgical procedures are to be continued, withheld, or withdrawn, as well as when artificial feeding and fluids are to be used or withheld. It allows you to express your wishes prior to being incapacitated. Your physicians or health care providers are directed by the Living Will to follow your instructions. You may revoke the Living Will prior to becoming incapacitated. The procedures for revocation are provided in the forms listed.

To be valid, the proper form must be used for your State and it must be executed in compliance with the laws of your State. Some States require two witnesses to witness your signature or that the form be signed in the presence of a Notary public, or both. The forms provided on this site indicate which is required.

If the form provides for the appointment of an agent, the agent appointed should not also be a witness to your signature. The agent appointed to carry out your wishes is sometimes called a Health Care Representative.

The Living Will generally becomes operative when it is provided to your physician or health care provider AND you are incapable of making health care decisions for yourself, such as where you are permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to communicate.

Durable power of attorney for Health Care

A durable power of attorney for health care is used to appoint an agent to make health care decisions for you and usually includes the power of the agent to make decisions regarding terminal conditions and whether to prolong life. However, if you have a Living Will, the directions of the Living Will control over the durable power of attorney, because you have already made the decision of what is to be done under certain circumstances. Many people use a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will because they do not want to place the agent in the position of making decisions regarding choice in dying. The agent still has authority to make other health care decisions for you when you cannot make the decision yourself in situations where you need medical attention but are not terminally ill or in a permanent coma.



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Living Will, Durable power of attorney for Health Care