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What is the Purpose of a Living Will?
A living will is a document prepared by patient with a terminal illness to make known his preferences regarding the type of medical care or treatment he would want to receive. Essentially, this document (also called an advance directive or a health care directive) enables the patient to decide for himself how he wants his life to be prolonged through medical treatments and life support systems.
Why create a will when a loved one can choose what’s best for you? Well, it is your own life—and it is your right to determine for yourself whether you want to remain in a continuous vegetative state or not. To some people, prolonging life when death is looming is only prolonging the suffering and pain associated with the dying process. Others find it a violation to their religion the procedure of extending their life with the use of machines.
Living wills allow terminally ill patients to decide whether to continue or withdraw the medical procedure performed on them.
Also, these documents state the kind of life support systems such as artificial feeding and fluid tubes and dialysis that a certain patient wants to use or cancel. In other words, living wills allow patients to clearly state their medical preferences before they are unable to make such literally life and death decisions.
A health care directive informs the family of what the patient would want to happen in case he would need a life support system. As a result, family members and relatives will not have to argue amongst themselves or face a dilemma whether to extend the life of their loved one or to end his suffering.
Another justification for drafting a will is that medical breakthroughs have enabled doctors to extend and sustain one’s life, though the patients may not be able to recover from a vegetative state. A health care directive informs the doctor in advance if the patient wishes to discontinue medical procedures that are meant to extend life, even if that would mean the end of his life.
The best thing about living wills is that medical professionals and health care providers are bound to follow the statements or orders expressed in these documents. Patients also have the option to withdraw or change some statements in their will, or revoke the document altogether, before they become mentally incapacitated.
For the will to be recognized as valid and legal, it must conform to the laws of your state. For example, some states require that the document be notarized, signed by two witnesses, or both.
Typically, living wills become effective when the copies of the document are sent to the doctor, health care provider, and you are unable to make medical care decisions for yourself (which means either you cannot communicate because of terminal illness or are permanently unconscious and in a state of coma).
Understanding the purpose of a living will is crucial because it can spare your loved ones the burden of determining the best health care decision for your condition.
Living Will Articles
Tips for Living Will Creation
What is the Difference Between a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney?
Organ Donation on Your Living Will
Difference between a Living Will, a Will, and a Living Trust
The Benefits Of A Living Will: A Rundown
Specific Medical Treatments Involved in Living Will
Living Will Forms: How To Deal With Them
How to Create Your Own Living Will
A Living Will?
What is a Living Will?
Guidelines In Making A Living Will
More Than Just a Living Will
Differences of a Living Will and Trust
The Fundamentals Of A Living Will
Contents Of A Living Will
Steps to Creating a Living Will
Advance Medical Directives: The Living Will
The Benefits of Using a Living Will Software
Selecting your Health Care Proxies in Living Wills
Living Will: An Overview
When is a Living Will Effective?
Living Will: Planning for End-of-Life Issues
What People Should Know About Living Will
Frequently Asked Questions about Living Will