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Living Will (LV) or Medical Directives (Ultimate Guide)

Why should I create a Living Will?

Living Will or Medical directive is a revocable and flexible document that forms the legal agreement between the Principal (or Grantor) and an attorney (or agent). Following are some reasons you would need a Living Will for your healthcare needs.

  1. Living Will can legally enforce your values and wishes about medical treatments, organ donations, and organ transplantations.

  2. Living Will represents your medical preferences before and after mental incapacity.

  3. Living Will is the Will that you make decision related to medical treatments in a life which will carry on after mental incapacity during an unconscious coma like medical condition. The decision may include whether you want to allow or withhold Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Ventilators, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), Pacemakers, Artificial nutrition and hydration,

  4. Living Will is very simple, easy, and inexpensive to create. And it adds the values in life and after death that cannot be underestimated.

  5. Most countries have laws enacted regarding Living Wills, so it is your legal right to create one.

What is Living Will?

A Living Will or a Medical directive (MD) is a legal document covering your end-of-life medical wishes, including withholding medical treatments, organ donations, transplantations, etc. The Living Will is a strong estate plan that speaks when you cannot decide due to inability or mental incapacity. The Living Will demands moral and ethical respect for the patient. It is also, Doctor's obligation to the patient. The legal laws regarding medical bioethics emphasize protecting an individual's life—every individual's right to allow or disallow medical treatments.

How can I create Living Will?

There are a few important steps you should follow in the process of creating a Living Will.

  1. Learn about various medical conditions, their treatments, and how they suit your wishes. Also, think logically but just emotionally. Some treatments can cost huge dollars, so coming up with a list of treatments you want to allow and disallow requires brainstorming. Living Will can also include your preferences about organ tissue donations and transplantations. You can allow or strictly disallow these preferences through a living Will based on your values and belief.

  2. Consult a Doctor to know more about medical treatment because some countries may have limitations regarding what they offer in their medical facilities. Even though you are wealthy, you may not get what you write in Living Will. So, it is important to talk to doctors, especially in those countries where the medical cost is high and also in those countries where the medical facilities are underdeveloped.

  3. Create Living Will through an online service provider or consult a lawyer or attorney. If you are creating Living Will in Canada, United States, Australia, or Europe, the legal laws differ from one jurisdiction (i.e., state, province, or territory) to another and so ensure you meet all legal requirements. Also, never combine Living Will with other estate plans such as Last Wills, Trust, and Power of Attorney.

  4. Witness and notarize your Living Will to make it a fully legal document.

  5. Living Will is revocable until you lose mental capacity, so it is easy to update but ensure you witness and notarize again when you change it. Creating Living Will in the best way is important because it is a legal document considered in most parts of the world.

How is the Healthcare directives (HD) important for a physician or doctor?

A Physician or a Practitioner cannot decide to withhold or withdraw treatments without a written the Healthcare directives (called as Advanced health directives or Living Will) or verbally recorded communications from a patient. Any medical treatment, procedure, or surgery performed without medical consent is as worse as committing murder. If there is neither of these available, then the decision will be taken based on feedback from family members. Any disagreements of opinions among family members can end up in court.

How does a Healthcare proxy differ from an Attorney?

A healthcare proxy is appointed under Living Will to make the decisions related to medical treatments, organ donations, and transplantation. On the other hand, Attorney appointed under POA can make decisions about your day-to-day needs, including financial, medical, or personal.

What is an Advance healthcare Healthcare plan (ACP)?

The ACP is a broad term that includes a living Will and the Power of Attorney for Healthcare. The term is mostly used in Canada, United States, Australia, and Europe.

How many agents should I appoint for my Living Will?

There is no concern legally if you appoint one or more agents; however, it is recommended to have two agents least to be appointed for your Living Will. Three agents are better than two, but it is not mandatory. Having more agents can give more life to your Living Will document, but how you draw matters much; for example, if you prefer to have two agents concurrently acting for all decision-making, it will be more robust, but it may create delays and complications in decision-making.

Do I need to notarize Living Will?

The notarization requirements may differ from one country or jurisdiction to another. However, notarizing Living Will can provide more weight. Also, if there are no requirements to notarize in your country today, that does not mean it may not be required in the future, so it's better to notarize Living Will.

Can I make an Advance care directive form to prevent or withhold treatments, organ donations, or organ transplantations?

Yes, of course. Creating an Advance care directive form (called as Living Will) does not mean you have only the options to choose medical treatments, organ donations, or transplantations; instead, you choose to prevent all these. It is also true that you may decide to allow treatments, organ donations, or organ transplantation. It's your time to allow or disallow medical treatments and other preferences through Living Will. The choice is yours before it is too late (i.e., accidents, pandemics, disasters, chronic illness, or disability).

Can I combine Living Will with Last Will and Personal Directive (called Healthcare Power of Attorney)?

Living Will differs greatly from a Last Will and Personal Directive (Healthcare Power of Attorney). You can not combine all these documents, a common mistake many people make. The reasons for not combining are as follows.

  1. Last Will is created for estates which has nothing to do with Living Will and Personal directive.

  2. Living Will cannot cover the estate distribution-related clauses.

  3. Last Will cannot cover the medical-related clauses.

  4. Personal directives cannot cover medical treatments.

How much can it cost to create Living Will?

It can cost from $50 to $500, depending on the country where you live. Having drawn, Living Will can save much more than it costs when you become incapacitated. Not creating Living Will means you rely on your family members and doctors to make decisions on your behalf when you cannot make yourself due to mental incapacity.

What is the main difference between Living Wll and Personal Directive (called Healthcare Power of Attorney)?

Living Will differs greatly from a personal Directive (Healthcare Power of Attorney). A personal Directive is created to look after personal affairs, including medical but cannot cover healthcare treatments, organ donations, and organ transplantations. One of the biggest differences is Living Will can extend after death for organ donations or transplantation, but healthcare directive expires immediately after death.

How Living Trust differs from Living Will?

Living Trust concenrs with wealth and estates. Living Trust is created to mange wealth while alive and estates distribution after death. Living Will cannot be used fr managing wealth and estates but medical treatments.

In which countries Living Will differ from one Jurisdiction (i.e., state, province, territory) to another?

Living Will may differ from one country or Jurisdiction (i.e., state, province, or territory) to another for the United States, Canada, Australia, and some European countries, so your Living Will must comply with jurisdiction-specific laws for these countries. Wassiyyah provides customized, legally compliant Living Wills for all world countries. Due to the complexity of laws worldwide, you should not use available free templates for creating your Living Will.

What are the terms regarding advanced care treatments concerning living Wills?

There are terms that you should be aware of are Palliative care, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Do-not-Resusciate (DNR), Life support or Life prolonging or sustaining medical interventions, Feeding tube, Gastrostomy tube, Artificial or Critically assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH), Intensive care unit (ICU), Intravenous line (IV), Tracheostomy, Transfusion, Ventilator or Mechanical ventilation, Psychosurgery, etc.

What terms should you be aware of regarding the medical procedures after death related to Living Will?

There are terms that you should be aware of Organ donations or transplantations, Anatomical gift, Autopsy, Postmortem or mutilation, etc.

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