The simple answer to that question is that a living will is a written statement detailing an individual's wishes regarding medical treatment when that person cannot express consent.
Guidelines in preparing a living will:
1. Living Wills are not effective unless the person is incapacitated. So, as you prepare your living will, be sure you have given directions for resuscitation and prolonged care.
2. Living Wills are usually not effective until a physician certifies you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. In other words, if you have a heart attack, but are not terminally ill and regain consciousness, then the living will is not in effect.
However, a living will is a bit more than just a written statement, there are specific questions that need to be answered. The requirements vary by state. So, you will want to research state guidelines, and possibly consult a lawyer.
The Mayo Clinic discusses what kinds of treatments you might want to consider in your living will.
- Resuscitation: Determine if and when you would want to be resuscitated.
- Mechanical Ventilation: Consider if, when, and for how long you would want to be placed on a mechanical ventilator.
- Nutritional and Hydration Assistance: Decide if, when, and for how long you would want to be fed via a tube in the stomach.
- Dialysis: Determine if and when you would want your kidneys treated via dialysis.
When answering these questions and deciding what you want, think about what you value, think quality of life versus quantity of life, and what you feel would make your life not worth living. Having a living will now makes it possible for your decisions to be honored when you cannot communicate your wishes.
Thinking you might need a living will? Please contact us and let's discuss it. Our Torrance estate planning lawyer is always here to provide guidance.