Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why Would I Want a Living Will?


Why Would I Want a Living Will?

Do you have strong feelings or beliefs regarding potential life sustaining or ending treatment options?  A living will allows you to assert in no uncertain terms what treatment options you desire, in case there ever comes a time where you are unable to communicate such yourself due to disease or permanent unconsciousness. Save your family from having to make these decisions for you and hire an attorney to prepare a living will – or durable power of attorney – on your behalf.
Unfortunately, there may come a time in your life where you are unable to communicate you desires regarding medical treatment options.  A living will is a document that expresses your desires on your behalf. 
Initially, living wills were used as instruments to ensure a “natural death” for individuals who did not desire to be kept alive by artificial means.  In the years since, though, it has become an instrument by which an individual can do the opposite and request that all life saving measures be taken to preserve their life in the instance they are unable to communicate this themselves.
A Living Will Alternative
A durable power of attorney can, to an extent, serve as an alternative to a living will.  This document gives an attorney-in-fact the legal power to make health decisions on behalf of one who cannot makes those decisions for themselves.  The important difference between these two instruments is that a durable power of attorney allows the attorney the option to choose between following their instructions and exercising their own judgment.
For a Living Will to Be Effective…
An individual must be deemed by their doctor and a conferring physician to be either terminally ill or permanently unconscious.  A durable power of attorney does not require such extreme incapacitation, rather only that the individual granting the power be unable to make their own health care decisions.
Additionally, the directive must follow the rules of the state of residence of the individual.  See 26:2H-53 to 93 for New Jersey requirements and Title 20, Chapter 54, section 5441 to 5447 for Pennsylvania requirements. 
Why do I Need an Attorney?
This is an important decision and one you want to make sure conforms with the relevant laws of your state.  An attorney can help to ensure that your wishes are followed and that your family is saved the heartache of trying to anticipate your wishes.  Protect them and yourself and hire an attorney to prepare a living will on your behalf.