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Contents Of A Living Will
In 1969, Illinois lawyer Louis Kutner first proposed the idea of living wills. Although the concept was received, the use of living wills faced many challenges particularly in cases when the testator, the person who made the living will, failed to clearly translate his health care desires into paper and so left rooms for confusion and misinterpretation. But over the years, the concept of living will has been explored and standardized. The contents of a living will, particularly, are becoming more encompassing and specific, thereby helping the doctors carry out medical wishes and the family in easing the burden.
Living wills come in different wordings, but the content says the same thing: The patient is given the right to decide for his medical care even in the bed of unconsciousness, terminal illness, or vegetative state. Specifically, the living will touches the following areas:
1. Declaration of sound-mindedness at the time of making the living will. The testator affirms that he is in a reasonably perfect state of mind to decide on his medical wishes and to understand their implications and that all decisions are made willfully, voluntarily, and without the presence of any kind of pressure. This have to be made sure because whatever wishes indicated in the living will would be actualized and would determine whether to withdraw or continue any medical intervention.
2. Possible medical scenarios. These may include comatose, vegetative state, permanent disability, brain damage (both terminal and not), and chronic illness. For each medical scenario, the testator chooses whether to undergo treatments and if so, under what specific goal. It can be to sustain life, to attempt to cure, to provide comfort, etc. Additionally, the testator can specifically state his refusal of life-sustaining or life-prolonging measures, should bringing the desired quality of life is impossible and death is imminent. It is important to note, however, that a living will is not supposed to include unwarranted requests like euthanasia, administration of unnecessary and inappropriate medications, and the likes.
3. Appeal that the living will be honored. The testator requests that the attending physicians and family members honor the directives stated in the living will.
4. Statement of possible revocation. The testator reserves the right to revoke the living will at any time. But unless the living will is revoked, it would remain active and must represent the wishes of the testator.
5. Declaration of witnesses. The witnesses testify that the testator is emotionally, legally, and mentally capable of making the decisions and that he understands the implications of the stated health care desires. They also state that they are not in any way related to the testator by blood or marriage, do not represent the testatorís doctors or attending hospital, and are not beneficiaries of the testatorís estate.
6. Signatures of the testator and witnesses. The living will is duly signed to make it legally binding. Any unsigned living will is considered invalid.
The contents of a living will should be carefully reviewed before notarizing, if required by the state, and filing. It is also important to update the living will periodically, as beliefs change over time and new medical treatments, which the testator may either like or dislike to receive, are introduced each year.
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Guidelines In Making A Living Will
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The Benefits Of A Living Will: A Rundown
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