Each state has its own guidelines regarding medical decisions in the event the patient is incapacitated or unable to communicate on his or her own behalf. Drafting a living will means that, if you require end-of-life care, your wishes are known.
What Is a Living Will?
A living will is a type of advance directive, a legal document in which you outline your wishes regarding end-of-life care in case of terminal condition, irreversible coma, or a persistent vegetative state. These conditions strike at any age. Anyone over the age of 18 can benefit by having a living will. Remember, even when a child still lives at home, if he or she is 18, parents no longer have the authority to make medical decisions for that child.
Living wills do have some limitations, but used in concert with other advance medical directives, such as a durable health care power of attorney, they form a powerful part of your estate-planning portfolio.
Choose Your Agent
Naming a person that you trust to act as your health care power of attorney (or agent) is your first step. Your agent speaks for you when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. Discussing your preferences with your agent ensures he or she understands your choices and agrees to enforce them if it ever becomes necessary.
Do not ignore this discussion. Although difficult, it serves two purposes. One, you learn whether your chosen agent is willing to adhere to your wishes. Some people have moral or religious objections to certain medical choices. You need this information before naming an agent whose beliefs forbid him or her from following your wishes. The second reason is that this discussion ensures your medical agent understands your wishes. Issues not covered in your living will may arise. A full understanding of the spirit of your medical wishes helps your agent advocate on your behalf.
Medical Treatments Covered by a Living Will
A living will allows you to make choices regarding end-of-life care. In Arizona, this means terminal illness or injury resulting in an irreversible coma or vegetative state. Talking to your primary physician helps delineate these wishes, but some treatments to consider include:
- CPR: If you heart stops beating, do you want the medical team to institute CPR or electric shocks to resuscitate your heart?
- Intubation: If you are no longer able to breathe on your own, do you want to be on a mechanical ventilator?
- Intravenous nutrition and hydration: Do you want your body to receive nutrients and hydration artificially?
- Palliative care: Do you want medications to manage pain? Do you prefer to die at home, or move to hospice care?
Other stipulations include organ and tissue donation. If you choose to be an organ donor, understand that this necessitates life-sustaining treatment to complete this procedure. Include a statement in your living will that you allow this treatment specifically to allow doctors to harvest your organs and tissue.
Schedule a Consultation
A living will is really a gift to your loved ones, as it frees them from having to make these heart-wrenching decisions on your behalf. It also ensures your wishes are met and protects your family at the same time. Contact us today to learn more about this important document, as well as other estate-planning tools.
Contact us today for assistance with designing and implementing your Arizona Living Will. And enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a plan in place for how you will be cared for in an end of life situation.