Living Wills, Why Are They So Important?

By: Larryd.johnson
A Living will is a written, legal document that spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don't want, such as mechanical breathing (respiration and ventilation), tube feeding, resuscitation. In some states the living will may be known by a different name, such as health care declaration or health care directive.

Even though Living Wills have become customary in many parts of the country and are highly respected by health care providers, a high percentage of Americans still do not have a living will and/or medical power of attorney in place to ensure their medical treatment preference. If you don't have a living will, get one, then register it with a Living Will Registry.

A Living Will Registry allows you to store your living will documents in a secure, online database. Only authorized health care providers may access and view your documents in the registry. Access is given 24-hours a day 365 days a week. The registry also stores your emergency contact information so that family and next of kin can be contacted. In most cases participants are contacted annually to update any advance directives.

Why are Living Wills necessary? You may be someone who strongly believe in the inviolability, or the sanctity of life. And unless the patient himself or herself wills the termination of life-prolonging measures, no one has the right to pull the plug. Then again, the only way that this would happen is through the use of living wills.

Remember since your living will documents are suppose to be legally binding make sure everything is put in witing. In addition since every state has its own set of policies, states will vary in their consistencies. So if you plan to move to different state be sure to look up that states living will policies.

The most obvious place to look for living will forms would be at your local hospital. The United States federal law commands all health care facilities to provide advance directives information to residents in their communities - including information regarding state-specific statutes. You may get hold of a living will form by getting in touch with the Social Service Department or Patient Representative of the hospital, your doctor, or pay an attorney to draw them up. Some opt to save attorney fees by creating their own forms. In the resource box we provide you a link to state specific do-it-yourself living will forms software.

Once you have a completed living will you should inform your lawyer - if you have one, as well as your next of kin, about the existence and whereabouts of your living will. In addition, your attending physician and health care provider should be notified and instructed in making the document a part of your permanent hospital records. On no account should living wills be stashed in a safe deposit box. Doing so will only make it harder for your loved ones to get hold of the document when the need arises.
Estate Planning
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