A Living Will is also known as an Advance Directive For A Natural Death. In plain terms, it is a document that expresses what forms of medical treatment you want to receive when you are faced with certain life-ending medical conditions.
In years past, Living Wills were very short and merely had you initial a line to say whether you want to be kept alive by heroic measures if you are getting ready to die.
Most people refer to this as “pulling the plug”. However, several years ago, our Raleigh law firm decided to expand the language in our Living Wills to include various medical conditions and various treatment options. In other words, a client can now customize her Living Will to meet her end of life wishes.
What Conditions Make a Living Will Effective?
The three main medical conditions that cause a Living Will to become effective are as follows:
- you develop an incurable or irreversible medical condition that will result in your death within a relatively short period of time;
- you become unconscious and your health care providers determine that, to a high degree of medical certainty, you will never regain consciousness
- you suffer from advanced dementia or any other condition which results in the substantial loss of your cognitive ability and your health care providers determine that, to a high degree of medical certainty, this loss is not reversible.
When signing your Living Will, you can determine if you want your life extended if you have one of the foregoing medical conditions.
Another important aspect of your Living Will is that you can make a determination in writing as to whether you want artificial hydration or artificial nutrition to remain in place if it will extend your life. In other words, do you want an IV or a feeding tube? This can often be a difficult decision for family members to make for you. It is best if you put your wishes in writing while you still have the ability to make the decisions yourself.
Often, your family members do not know your wishes and are left with the enormous burden of making decisions for you. We always suggest putting your wishes in writing through the execution of a Living Will, no matter what your wishes. Your wishes cannot be “right” or “wrong”. They are simply your wishes which your family needs to know.
People often ask me if they really need a Living Will.
The answer is “yes”, even if you think your family members know your wishes. Many clients I talk to remember the case involving Terri Schiavo. She was the Florida woman who had a feeding tube but was considered medically brain dead. Ms. Schiavo’s family battled in court over removing the feeding tube. One side of her family said she wanted the feeding tube and the other side said she did not want the feeding tube. This turned into a traumatic case for all of her family and much of the United States as we all watched her end of life struggles play out in a courtroom and on television. A Living Will could have avoided this battle among Ms. Schiavo’s family.
If our Wake County law firm can help with any of your estate planning needs, then please call us. Basic estate planning documents can often save heartache and family battles.
Speak to a Will and Estate Lawyer in Raleigh
If our attorneys can help with any of your estate planning needs, then please do not hesitate to call. We can promise you that the cost of obtaining a Will is some of the best money ever spent. You owe it to your family. Call 919-615-2473 or Request a case review today.
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