Living Wills - Your Wish is Their Command!

If you are admitted to a hospital, federal law requires that you be asked if you have or would like a Living Will or other medical directive. The Living Will is a short written instruction informing medical providers and family of your desire to be removed from life support if you become terminally ill with no hope of recovery and absolutely no quality of life.

The Living Will is essential for several reasons. First, it avoids confusion as to your wishes with respect to end of life medical procedures (i.e. pulling the plug). Second, the Living Will helps avoid disagreements between family members by providing written confirmation of your health care intentions. Finally, Living Wills reduce some of the emotional pressure from a family member making your ultimate medical decisions.
Most Living Wills are one page documents containing direction that if death is imminent, the patient does not want to prolong his or her life with continuing life support. One amusing example of a Living Will that delineates when care providers should withdraw life support is as follows: "Being of marginally sound mind, I do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. If at least three days should pass and I should fail to request at least three of the following essentials for a quality life: wine, beer, chocolate, nachos, pizza, Starbuck's coffee or football; it shall be conclusively presumed that I am terminally ill. As such, I hereby instruct my attending physician to pull the plug, reel in the tubes, let the fat lady sing and call it a day!"

The Living Will to be legal must be properly signed in front of two witnesses or a notary who attests to the signing in accordance with state law. The key is to not get overly concerned with the language, but rather to get a Living Will in place NOW to govern your health care directives.

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