A living will, also known as an advanced directive, is a legally binding document that gives the details of your end-of-life requests in case you are unable to speak for yourself. Examples of this would be if you are in a car accident and are in an unconscious state, or if you have a terminal illness.
There are numerous decisions that need to be made in these situations, but if you can?t communicate your wishes, the responsibility falls to your closest family members. If you don?t have a living will they may have no idea what your wishes are, so the decisions they make could be drastically different than what you want.
Important Steps to Take
Discuss Potential Scenarios: Talk with your doctor, an experienced attorney, and your family about the possible medical decision that may need to be made. Then you should decide on specific medical treatment you do or do not want.
Choose a Medical Power of Attorney: Specify one person who will have the power to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to speak or communicate for yourself. You must choose someone who will follow your wishes and not their own. Document the name of this person in writing. Your living will should serve as this person?s guide for making decisions regarding your health care.
Decide on a Level of Medical Intervention: Include in your living will a level of medical intervention that you want. Some patients just want pain management. Some patients might request that they not be hooked up to a machine to keep them alive. They might choose to have CPR or not have it.
Explore Hospice: Document whether or not you want hospice care. This care can provide comfort and pain management during your last days. They can also provide support to your loved ones.
Communicate the Location of Your Documents: Tell your your family where your living will can be found in the event of a medical emergency. Some states offer databases where your document can be accessed when the patient does not keep a physical copy with them. If your state doesn?t offer this or you choose not to use it, make sure your family knows where your document is located.
Talk with Your Doctor: Once you have documented your wishes, talk with your doctor about them. It is important for you to know that some states legally permit medical staff to deny care that conflicts with their ethical values, even if it means not providing you with the care you want. If this is true in your state, talk to your doctor and an attorney about the best way for your wishes to be carried out.
You should meet with an attorney to help you define your wishes and designate a healthcare power of attorney. At Sherer Law Offices we can help you through the process. Contact?us today or call (618) 692-6656 for more information.