There are any number of circumstances you might need to consider when drafting a living will and some you may not have thought of. Here are some of the common topics that arise.
A LIVING WILL MAY BE IMPORTANT FOR A SENIOR CITIZEN, BUT WHY SHOULD THIS BE A PRIORITY FOR PEOPLE IN THEIR TWENTIES?
A Living Will is designed to give you and your family peace of mind whether you are 25 or 75 years of age. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among Ohioans under age 45. In a well publicized case, an individual was 25 years old when she was thrown from a car and went into an irreversible coma. Because she didn’t have a Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney, her family had to struggle in the courts, including the United States Supreme Court, for seven years before life-support machines could be turned off.
IF MY CONDITION BECOMES HOPELESS, CAN I SPECIFY THAT I WANT MY FEEDING AND FLUID TUBES REMOVED?
No special instructions are needed to allow the withholding of nutrition and hydration if you are in a terminal condition and they don’t provide you with comfort or relieve your pain. However, if you want to allow your doctor to withhold artificial nutrition/hydration if you are permanently unconscious, your document needs to expressly state this.
I HAD A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE BEFORE 1991 LAW WENT INTO EFFECT. DO I NEED A NEW ONE?
Yes. Our recommendation is that you have a document that includes the specific language that is required under the 1991 law.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER I FILL OUT A LIVING WILL DECLARATION OR HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY FORM?
Make several copies. Give one to a trusted member of your family. Keep another with your personal papers. Leave copies with your physician and your lawyer, and, perhaps, your clergy person.
CAN I HAVE DOCUMENTS SAYING THAT IF I BECOME CRITICALLY ILL, I WANT TREATMENT TO BE CONTINUED USING EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS TO KEEP ME ALIVE?
Yes, but you will not be able to use the standard forms for the documents. You should also talk to your physician about the effect of your decision.