The Living Will, along with the Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, and Revocable Living Trust, is a core document that everyone should have when making an elder law plan. Sometimes called a medical Power of Attorney, the Living Will serves two main purposes when it comes into use when a person is incapacitated and cannot make their own health care decisions: It names health care representatives to act on the person’s behalf and informs health care providers of the person’s wishes regarding medical treatment.
The most important aspect of creating a Living Will is choosing a health care representative, or representatives. The representative should be someone who is trusted enough to make hard decisions regarding medical care as they often must make difficult choices concerning end of life and palliative care. This is why the representative needs to be fully aware of their responsibilities. If you’re considering making a Living Will, speak with your potential health care representatives to make sure they’re up to the task. You’ll also want to explain why you chose them to make medical decisions for you. An experienced elder law attorney can give you advice on the best way to bring up the subject, as well as provide a comprehensive explanation of a health care representative’s responsibilities.
The Living Will also gives instructions about the type of medical treatment you want to receive to both your health care representatives and your medical professionals. These instructions mainly deal with end of life care but also cover any type of medical care that’s needed while you’re incapacitated. The Living Will provides instructions on any means of artificially extending life, including the placement of feeding tubes and ventilators.
A common misconception is that a Living Will serves the same purpose as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. While the two can be used in conjunction with each other concerning end of life care, they are actually two different forms. A DNR only provides instructions in case of imminent death, while a Living Will covers much more. One last important thing to note is that your health care representatives and medical professionals are bound by law to follow your wishes as described in your Living Will. You should speak with an experienced elder law attorney about your current medical condition and the types, if any, of end of life care you wish to receive so that your Living Will can follow as close to your wishes as possible.
If you have more questions about creating a Living Will, or if you’d like to have your current Living Will reviewed to make sure it still fits your needs, please contact our Ohio elder law office at 877-653-3450 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.