A living will is a medical document. It is also an advanced and legal directive specifying what medical care you do or do not want to have should you become unable to communicate. For example, a doctor or other medical professional will consult this document if a person becomes incapacitated from life-threatening injuries or a terminal illness. Ultimately, a living will expresses whether a patient wants life-saving measures. Without the document, a patient’s family will need to make these decisions, which can become especially burdensome if they never expressed their wishes.
When Do Doctors Review a Living Will
A living will is only pertinent to life-threatening situations or conditions. Routine procedures or standard medical care are not a cause for the review of an advanced directive. Additionally, a doctor will not simply make unilateral decisions based on the directive. The only way your living will comes into play is if you are incapable of communicating and are experiencing a life-threatening event.
What Items are Covered in a Living Will
The most common items covered under an advanced directive are ventilation, resuscitation via electric shock, and dialysis. The document should allow you to allow or deny any of the procedures. Additionally, the document will have a place to indicate your desire to donate organs and tissues after death. Finally, a patient can request pain medication throughout their final hours.
In many states, you can extend your advanced directive to include instructions for what to do in the event of no brain activity. You can also include instructions on what to do if doctors expect you to remain unconscious for the rest of your life, regardless of the presence of life-threatening injuries or terminal illnesses.
Should You Have a Living Will
Many people are uncomfortable thinking about a living will, often talking about how they would rather focus on life. While there is nothing wrong with focusing on life, taking necessary medical steps can help you live a fuller life.
No one knows when their time is going to run out. Accidents, injuries, illnesses, and several other complications can come along and cut life short. A living will is for you, but it is also for your family. Leaving them to decide how you would want to survive or die is unfair and heartbreaking. So many people will struggle with the decision they make for you for the rest of their lives.
Are you ready to get your affairs in order? Contact a wills lawyer to discuss whether a living will is right for you.