What Is A Living Will?
After creating a last will and testament, another important
legal document that should be discussed is a living will.
As technology continues to advance, the ability to keep people
alive by using various life support systems is also increasing.
Every individual has the right to decide whether or not they want
to be kept alive by life support. A living will explains the wishes
of an individual in the event they become incapacitated and there
is no reasonable chance of recovery of normal brain function.
Whether it is your wish to remain on life support or to abstain
from life support, it is important to put your wishes into writing.
The living will outlines specific medical instructions that should
be followed once an individual reaches a state where they are no
longer able to convey or communicate their wishes to others.
For instance, a living will would come into effect if an individual
falls into an irreversible coma or a vegetative state. Additionally,
a living will specifies what types of treatment an individual wishes
to receive once they become incapacitated with no chance of
recovery. For example, the living will will request or decline
cardiac resuscitation, mechanical respiration, artificial nutrition,
blood products, and kidney dialysis, in such circumstances.
A power of attorney or agent can also be listed in a living will
or in a separate medical power of attorney. The agent that is
chosen should be trusted to make important medical decisions
when you no longer can. This agent will be able to give consent or
withhold consent regarding various types of care that were not listed
in the living will or in circumstances where the decisions your made
are unclear. As a result, it is important to clearly convey what is to
happen in the event you become incapacitated with no chance of recovery.
Lastly, the agent would use their best judgment as to when they
feel it is time to release the living will to the doctors.
Once a living will is filled out, it is important to have it witnessed by at
least two different witnesses. In many states the living will must
also be notarized. These witnesses need to be of sound
mind and body. Being of sound mind and body is important in the
event the witnesses have to testify in court. Furthermore, the
witnesses should be independent and unrelated parties and should
not have any personal benefit from the document.
Lastly, a living will can be changed or revoked at any time.
It is important to review or update a living will when other
estate planning documents are being updated. A living will
should be reviewed and updated every five to seven years.
For more information regarding living wills and
other estate planning documents please contact
David M. Frees, III at 888-573-7407.