Living Wills Explained
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will or most commonly called Advance Directive for Health Care is document that outlines your healthcare wishes when you become incapacitated. There are three parts in a Living Will.
- Part One: This is where you to state your preferences regarding life sustaining treatments and the provision of hydration and nutrition in the event you are terminally ill, persistently unconscious, or have an end-stage condition.
- Part Two: Here you to appoint a Health Care Proxy, someone who can make healthcare decision on your behalf, including the decisions covered in part one above.
- Part Three: Allows you to declare if you wish, to make anatomical gifts (organ donation).
When does a Living Will go into effect?
A Living Will only goes into effect when you are on your death bed. Therefore it is important to protect yourself in all situations. You do this by creating a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.
What is the difference between a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare?
The main difference is a Living Will only goes into effect when you are on your death bed. A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare can be used any other time when you are determined to be mentally incapacitated to make decisions on your behalf.
In order to make medical decision you need to have the capacity to do so. Capacity is a legal term used to define a person’s mental state of mind. If you were to develop a mental disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia you would lose your mental capacity and therefore could not make medical decisions for yourself.
In the event this should happen having a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare would allow someone you pick and trust to make these decisions for you. If you did not have this a court would have to step in and appointment someone to do this.