What is a Living will

A living will is an advance health care directive that tells your doctors what kind of health care you want under extreme conditions. This kind of will has nothing to do with your personal assets.

We are all familiar with last wills and testaments, which determine how to disburse property upon your death. But what if you don’t die and are unable to make your wishes known? Your family must know what you want before they can do it. This legal document will strongly reinforce your choices in writing.

If you become incapacitated or are unable to speak, doctors need to know your personal choices regarding your health care. Your agent or proxy, usually a family member or close friend, is given legal authority once you create a document called “durable power of attorney.”

Do you wish to be an organ donor? What, exactly, do you want by way of final health care? Any adult over 18 can create an “advance directive,” which usually needs to be witnessed or notarized.

If you add a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order to your directive, it will be honored in all 50 states.

Very Important, Personal Decisions and Choices – Advance Health Care Directive

If you are in one of 3 states of health:
1) a terminal condition,
2) permanent coma, or
3) persistent vegetative state,

You must decide whether or not you want

1) artificial life support,
2) artificially administered food and water, and
3) comfort care that could prolong your life under that condition.

If you do not have a valid living will, the doctors and hospital will do everything in their power to keep you alive. If you cannot voice your own wishes, your assigned proxy must speak on your behalf. The hospital staff must be able to locate that person quickly, sometimes within minutes.

You can name an alternative representative, but attempting to contact two proxies is about all any health care person will be able to do on short notice. Once you are on life support, the problem becomes how and when to take you off.

Your proxy cannot be a minor and must be able to handle the responsibility of emotionally charged situations. Your agent should have a copy of your directive on hand and so should your family doctor.

You can obtain an advance directive form from your doctor, attorney, or hospital. You can get one free on-line at http://www.uslwr.com/forms.shtm.

A way to avoid a surrogate:

Click on your state for the “Declaration” of your intentions, which allows you to designate a surrogate to act on your behalf OR NOT, as you wish.

This could avoid a difficult decision for people who want to make the final choices for themselves, without involving others. You do not need an attorney to complete this simple form, but you must do some serious thinking before the time comes when it is needed.

To register your living will and advance directive on-line so that it is available to hospitals and doctors around the clock, visit http://www.uslivingwillregistry.com/providers.shtm.

Registration is free although it must go through a member health care provider or Community Partner who may charge a small fee. You can search there for a member doctor or Partner according to zip codes.

Your final wishes for your health care are YOUR final wishes. Let them be known so that your trusted agent will make sure your directives are followed.