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Create Your Living Will Before A Medical Crisis

A living will, also known as an advanced healthcare directive, is a legal document used to make your wishes known about prolonging medical treatment.  Not to be confused with a living trust, which is used for holding and distributing an individual’s assets, a living will informs health care providers and your family about your wishes for medical treatment if you are unable to do so yourself.


It is essential that you contact a trusted living wills attorney to help you create your living will before a medical crisis prevents you from being able to make decisions for yourself.


In general, a living will describes specific life-prolonging medical treatments and as the declarant, you indicate which of these treatments you want to allow to be applied to you in the event that you are either suffering from a terminal illness or are in a permanent vegetative state.  Your living will does not become effective unless you become incapacitated.  Until that time, you will be able to communicate what treatments you do or do not want directly.


A living will usually requires a doctor’s certification that you are either permanently unconscious or are suffering from a terminal illness before it can become effective.  For example, if you suffer from a heart attack but do not have a terminal illness or become permanently unconscious, your living will will not take effect.  At this time, you would be resuscitated even if your living will indicates that you don’t wish to have life-prolonging procedures.  A living will is only put into effect when your overall recovery is hopeless.


In a situation where you become incapacitated and are unable to speak for yourself but your health is not so critical that your living will becomes effective, it is advised that you have a health care power of attorney.  A health care power of attorney gives another person the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf.  The individual that you designate to make these health care decisions is supposed to take into consideration what you would want should you be unable to speak for yourself.  Ensure that you speak with your health care power of attorney beforehand.  While it may be a difficult conversation to initiate, communicating your wishes clearly before it becomes too late will help to lessen the burden on the person you choose to designate as your health care power of attorney.


Your living will and your health care power of attorney will not do you any good if no one is made aware of them.  Make sure that you discuss these documents with your doctor and the individual you designate as your health care proxy.  Your doctor will be able to explain what kinds of end-of-life treatments apply to these documents.  Once you decide what you do or do not want, make your wishes known to your family and doctor.


To discuss your specific needs and to find out how a living wills lawyer in Pittsburgh can help you, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412.281.8222 or contact us online.


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