A Living Will is a document that sets forth an individual’s wishes regarding certain types of medical treatment in the event that the individual is unable to express his/her wishes at a later date. The Living Will allows an individual to relieve family and friends of the burden of making a decision regarding medical treatment, at a time when emotions may be running high and rationale may be running low, by making medical decisions for them.
The Declarant (the individual who makes the Living Will) reviews a checklist regarding several types of medical treatments including cardiac resuscitation, mechanical respiration, kidney dialysis, tube feeding and surgery, then makes decisions as to which medical treatments they wish or do not wish to receive should they enter a state of permanent unconsciousness.
The key terminology in a Living Will is “state of permanent unconsciousness”. The Living Will takes effect only when the Declarant enters a state of permanent unconsciousness or develops a terminal illness. Whether the individual is in such a state must be determined by the opinion of two medical doctors.
A common misnomer regarding Living Wills is that they will be used to end a person’s life prematurely, when there is hope of a full and complete recovery with a measurable quality of life, and this simply is not the case. Again, the terms of the Living Will come into effect only when that individual enters either a state of permanent unconsciousness or develops a terminal illness. The terms of a Living Will will not take effect when the individual is anticipated to recover to assume a measurable quality of life.
A Living Will is usually a very simple document, albeit a very important one, that every individual should have regardless of age. Call Attorney Artim at (412) 823-8003 to schedule an appointment or to discuss any question that you may have regarding Living Wills, Wills or Estates. If you prefer, send an email to Attorney Greg Artim