A legal document known as a living will is the vehicle individuals use to make their desires known regarding medical treatments that prolong life. This document is sometimes referred to as a health care directive or a physician’s directive. A living will should not be confused with a living trust, which is a document used to carry out the person’s desire for distribution of their assets to avoid the probate process. A living will, on the other hand, informs your family and health care providers of your plans for medical treatment in the event you are unable to speak for yourself.
Each state has its own requirements and it is important that you have an attorney in your state prepare your living will. At The Law Office of Dennis J. DiSabato, Jr. we include a living will as part of any estate planning process. This often includes a health care power of attorney, giving a family member or trusted friend the power to carry out your living will.
This legal document contains your wishes for certain life prolonging treatments. You decide which treatments you do NOT want administered in the event of an accident, terminal illness or other event that places you in a vegetative state. The living will does not become viable until such time as you are incapacitated and cannot verbalize what treatments are acceptable or treatments you do not want.
In most states the execution of the living will requires certification by a doctor that you are permanently unconscious or suffering from a terminal illness. A good example of when a living will does not apply is a person who suffers from a heart attack but does not have a terminal illness. A living will would not cover resuscitation since this is not a life prolonging procedure. A living will or health care directive would only be used when recovery is hopeless.
A health care power of attorney is for situations when you are incapacitated and not able to speak for yourself. This is also referred to as a health care proxy. This is a legal document which gives someone else permission to make decisions regarding your health care. This person should take into consideration your desires and what medical treatment you would or would not want under the circumstances. This can be a huge burden for someone close to you, so make sure you have an in-depth discussion regarding your specific preferences. This conversation can be difficult, but it is necessary.
As necessary as these legal documents are, they won’t do any good if no one knows they exist. Make an appointment with your doctor and bring your loved one with you to discuss what kinds of medical treatments you desire. Be prepared to ask your physician questions about your specific instructions. Make sure your family and your doctor are fully aware of your instructions once you have made the decision about what you do or do not want in the event you are unconscious or terminally ill.
The Law Office of Dennis J. DiSabato, Jr., LLC can help you with all of your estate planning, including living wills. We know that your desire is to protect your family and your assets and we are here to help.
This information is for general use and is not intended to be legal advice. Please call our offices today at 843-903-1212 for a free consultation. We can assist you with your legal needs and guide you in the right course of action.
The Law Office of Dennis J. DiSabato, Jr., LLC
3888 Renee Drive, Suite 201
Myrtle Beach, SC 29579