What is a Living Will and How Does It Work?
A living will (also known as a Health Care Directive or Advance Directive) is a legal document that allows you to indicate to doctors things you do or don’t want to be done when you are at the end of your life.
Specifically, do you want artificial hydration (IV fluid) or artificial nutrition (feeding tube)? This is different from a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), in that a DNR is a doctor’s order that is present in your chart.
It is also different from a POLST (Physician Order of Life-Sustaining Treatment), which is a bright green form that is typically placed on your fridge, signed by you and your doctor, that indicates to paramedics that you do NOT want them to do everything within that power to resuscitate you, as they are otherwise legally obligated to do.
A Living Will is a legal document that is done in conjunction with your other estate planning documents, including Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney. It ONLY goes into effect in the situation in which you are essentially brain dead and in a coma with no hope of recovery.
If there is any hope of recovery, this document does not apply. This document and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOA HC) go hand-in-hand.
A doctor typically will not withdraw life-sustaining treatment without the person who is acting under your DPOA HC consenting.
As a result, it is very important to communicate your wishes, especially regarding the quality of life with the person who is making healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to speak for yourself.
Thank you for reading. Please keep in mind that I have given general information, and there are always exceptions. This is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been established.