When the time comes, wouldn’t you love to save your loved ones from any unnecessary trauma and expense? It’s a wise choice to take time to plan ahead for the day when you might not be able to make any more choices on your own behalf. Living wills can quickly be created without the help of a lawyer. They make your choices and desires known when you can’t and so you’re family won’t have to.But living wills are not your last will and testament. It doesn’t involve issues like probate or distributing your assets to your family or friends. They are also called advance directives and are primarily used to either express your wishes if you are incapacitated or to appoint someone to speak on your behalf. Simply put, this person or the form itself speaks for you – fulfilling your wishes if you become unconscious or terminally ill.How are living wills created?The forms can be found online for each individual state. It’s important to make it apply to the state you are a legal resident of, in order to comply with that state’s law. These forms may also be obtained from your family doctor. This form may need to be witnessed by two people and it may also require notarization.One of the most important aspects of this vital form is who you choose as your representative. They don’t need to be related to you, but they certainly should be trustworthy. It’s also helpful, but not necessary, for this person to live generally in the same area as you for close proximity in case of emergency.Another great aspect of this form is for expressing your desire to be an organ donor and for your final arrangements. But, you are not locked into your decisions until you become permanently unconscious which must be determined by a medical expert. Up until that time, you still have the power to change your mind from the time of the form’s creation.Make sure you give a copy of your advance directive form to your representative, your physician, any other healthcare providers and any other family members or friends who may become involved.Some of the medical options you will need to choose are the following situations. All of these are on a “as-needed” basis.1. If CPR should be performed.2. If you should receive oxygen.3. If you should be kept alive through artificial feeding and hydration.4. If you should need dialysis.5. If you should need pain medicines.It’s not possible to cover every single aspect of living wills in this article, but I hope to have given you some food for thought.Peace of mind is what you will receive – for you and your loved ones. Remember, they will already be going through a tremendous amount of suffering if this time comes in your life. You will want to make some easy choices now in order to save them more difficult ones later.
How do you feel about life-support systems for the terminally ill? How much thought have you given to the decisions your family may face when contemplating the choice of maintaining or terminating life-sustaining medical treatment for you? Certainly, it is an easy subject to avoid considering. However, it is important to recognize there are measures you can take now that can help solidify your thoughts and wishes on the subject, thus providing your loved ones with guidance in the event such decisions become necessary.A Closer LookAt the present time, nearly all states have passed some form of law dealing with the requirements for living wills or health care proxies. While a health care proxy allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf, a living will generally allows you to specify the particular types of treatment you would like to have provided or withheld. Each state has its own set of requirements.A living will is a medical directive – written in advance – that sets forth your preference for treatment in the event you become unable to direct care. The document may be drafted to include when the directive should be initiated and who has the decision-making responsibility to withdraw or withhold treatment. In addition to allowing respect for your wishes, the living will can help alleviate feelings of guilt or uncertainty experienced by those faced with the responsibility of making important decisions for loved ones.The Patient Self-Determination ActA far-reaching federal law, known as the Patient Self-Determination Act, requires all health care providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid to inform everyone over age 18 of their right to determine how they want to deal with this issue and whether they want to fill out a living will. If you have received information on this subject, it’s no coincidence, since the law also requires increased emphasis on community outreach and education.This law impacts virtually every hospital, nursing home, and health maintenance organization (HMO) throughout the country. It is important to note that the law does not mandate that health care providers require their patients have a living will. Instead, it stipulates that health care providers must provide written information about the patient’s rights to make decisions about medical treatment, including the right to make an advance determination about life-sustaining medical treatment, and record whether the patient has done so.At the present time, it appears most of these organizations have determined this question can most appropriately be handled when a patient is admitted. Therefore, the next time you are admitted to a hospital-even for something as minor as having a mole removed-don’t be surprised if you are given information about these rights and are asked to fill out a form that asks whether you currently have a living will or wish to have one.The living will is a legal document and each state has its own specific requirements. A qualified legal professional can help you understand the benefits of a living will and what has to be done to assure its validity.