Living Wills And How They Work

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					Living Wills And How They Work

The concept of living wills may not be very clear to a number of people.
Some may even equate it with the "last will and testament", which is a
totally different type of legal document. In point of fact, a living will
is more analogous to a "power of attorney".

Its primary purpose is to make it possible for you – the maker or owner –
to formulate decisions in advance with regard to medical treatment or
life support, and lawfully command the health care team to carry out your
wishes in that regard.

Because of the presence of numerous advances in the field of medicine and
health care, doctors are now capable of sustaining life – even if it
means being in a permanently vegetative condition. This is one of the
reasons why living wills have become such a necessity.

Not all people actually like the idea of remaining in an almost lifeless
state for an indefinite period of time. More often than not, the notion
of extending life even when death is just round the corner seems
excruciating for both the family and the patient. It's like one way of
prolonging the suffering.

A living will makes it possible for you to decide whether life-sustaining
measures and medical treatment should be continued or withheld. The
directive may also include the refusal to take artificial feeding. Aside
from that, you may even express other specific wishes before you become
incapacitated to make decisions for your health care.

In order for the living will to be legally binding, the appropriate form
must be utilized and it must be accomplished in conformity with the state
laws on the subject of living wills. A number of states require the
presence and signatures of two valid witnesses, the attendance of a
Notary Public, or both.

In case the living will form necessitates the appointment of a patient
advocate, he or she must not be any of the two witnesses. Your advocate
should carry the burden of deciding for your health care and medical
treatment in the unfortunate event of your incapacity to make the
decision for yourself.

This person is also known as a health care representative. He or she may
be a spouse, a daughter or son, a family member, a friend, or any
significant person that you absolutely trust.

In essence, a living will becomes effective when the creator is no longer
capable of making decisions with regard to medical treatment. It may be
in the face of a terminal illness, permanent unconsciousness or coma,
inability to communicate, mental incapacity, or vegetative condition.

In the event of any of these situations, the health care provider – a
hospital, a hospice, or a nursing home – must be provided with a copy of
the advance directive. The instructions contained within the legal
document will serve as the basis for the continuation or withdrawal of
medical treatment and other life-sustaining procedures.

The health care team, specifically the attending physicians, is legally
bound to follow the directives indicated on a living will. However,
although it is considered a legal document, the maker may revoke or
change the contents of the will provided that it is carried out prior to
becoming debilitated.

On top of that, the proper procedures for the revocation of living wills
should be followed to make the act official.

				
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posted:3/12/2011
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