What is a Living Will and a Health-Care Powers-of-Attorney?
A living will, also known in some states as an Advance Medical Directive With Health-Care Instructions, is one’s declaration to the world not to keep one alive on life-support machines or by receiving nutrition through feeding tubes, in certain limited circumstances. Since State law varies regarding the language that may be used, you should consult with an attorney in your area to ensure that your Living Will complies with the requirements of your State.
In short, the Living Will applies in very limited circumstances, namely when one is terminally ill and death is imminent, or one is in a vegetative or end-stage condition with no reasonable prospects of recovery and unaware of one’s surroundings. One may include special individualized health-care instructions.
Since the Living Will is very limited in its scope, it is important to appoint someone you trust to make health-care decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so. You appoint such a person by appointing a health-care agent in an Advance Medical Directive or by granting a durable medical power-of-attorney.
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