Have you thought about the type of care of treatment you would or wouldn’t want to receive if you were to suffer an injury or illness in the future which made you incapable of communicating for yourself?
If you haven’t, now may be a good time to do so.
Life can be unpredictable. Making your wishes known while you are mentally and physically able can relieve a lot of stress for your family members. In turn, your family member can make your wishes known to your medical practitioners or caregivers should an important decision ever need to be made concerning your healthcare.
Unlike a Will or Last Will and Testament, which deals with directives after your death, a Living Will, also known as an Advance Directive, is a document where you can set out any wishes or instructions you may have about your medical care, medication and resuscitation if you are ever in a state or condition of long-term mental or physical incapacity. A Living Will stipulates your end-of-life wishes while you’re still alive.
Situations, where a Living Will may come into effect, are:
- If you were in the final phases of a terminal illness;
- You have suffered a severe loss of mental or physical capacity or functions; or
- You are in a vegetative state from which you are unlikely to recover.
If you are in a state or condition similar to the above, some instructions you may wish to include in your Living Will are:
- That your right to refuse treatment and medication is respected;
- That you do not receive any treatment designed to prolong your life;
- That you are given the care, attention and sustenance to keep you comfortable and free from distress; and
- Not to use any techniques to allow you to continue to live in a ‘vegetable state’.
The idea of prolonging a person’s life when there is no reasonable quality or hope for recovery can be hard for many to digest. These situations put enormous pressure on families to make the ‘right’ decision. This is a challenging and often controversial subject, one that’s not often discussed ahead of these unlikely occurrences.
Having a formal document that sets out your intentions can be a gift to family members when faced with the anguish of making the life-changing decision themselves.
While a Living Will is not a legally binding document, it provides persuasive guidance to your family and health care providers of your wishes and instructions. A Living Will isn’t complicated or expensive and can be drawn up with the assistance of one of our Trust and Estate lawyers. The guidance a lawyer can provide includes advice on what can and can’t be included in the document.