Understanding the Purpose of a Living Will

Do you know what you want to happen in terms of your medical care for life sustaining treatment? If you have firm beliefs about what this should look like, they need to be documented in a living will.

Also known as a directive to physicians, a living will is a critical component to your plans for what will happen to you if you are unable to speak for yourself. This binding document provides clear instructions for medical care providers as to the medical treatment you would like if you are incapable of verbally advising the doctor due to any reason, such as lack of consciousness.

Typically, a living will includes provisions for directions to medical personnel as it relates to providing or not providing life sustaining treatment or equipment for a person who has been categorized as brain dead with no hope of recovery. A living will in California can only be classified as legally effective when it has been appropriately executed and only if the person who requests life support withdrawal is no longer able to provide those instructions themselves.

The document, therefore, does not supersede the instructions of the individual. Legally and ethically, the hospital and doctor involved in a case are required to provide all means possible to keep an individual alive regardless of whether or not they are permanently mentally incapacitated and regardless of whether or not they have a realistic chance of recovery.

This can generate difficult conversations among family members that are best avoided by the presence of a living will. For more information about how to create a living will and what information goes inside, schedule a consultation with a Pasadena estate planning lawyer.    



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