Why have a Living Will?

There’s a lot of confusion about living wills, what they do, and their benefits. To understand their importance, it’s essential to understand what they do. Simply put, a living will sometimes called an Advance Directive, is a statement about an individual’s wishes about healthcare treatment and life sustaining measures if they are in a coma or have an end-stage or terminal condition.

A living will also designate a surrogate to act on an individual’s behalf if they’re incapacitated or otherwise unable to provide the information to healthcare providers for themselves. The surrogate is responsible for informing pertinent healthcare professionals of the individual’s decisions and seeing that they’re carried out. A living will is legally binding.

Individuals don’t have to engage the services of an attorney to create a living will. There are numerous places where a person can obtain a form. They’re available at physician offices, hospitals, senior centers, health departments, and online.

The forms don’t have to be notarized, but they do require two adult witnesses. While a spouse, blood relative or adopted child can act as one of the witnesses, the second witness can’t be related in any way. To avoid any potential complications, it’s best to have two unrelated people witness the signing of the document.

Once an individual has created their living will, it’s important that the surrogate has a copy and it should also be entered into the individual’s digital health record with their physician. For the living will to come into play, the treating physician and at least one other consulting physician have to agree that the potential for recovering from the condition is unlikely.

An advance directive ensures an individual’s final wishes are honored in regard to treatment and resuscitation at the end of their life. It’s not a decision to be made lightly and individuals should give it considerable thought before signing the document.


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