End-of-life situations are hard to go through for everyone involved. Discussions about terminal conditions are difficult as well.

However, having these difficult conversations early can help families in the future. When working with Rokisky, McCune, Wilharm and Blair, we help explain and document all possible options in regards to life support. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can give you, and your family, peace of mind that you have a plan and that your wishes will be taken care of.

What is an Advance Medical Directive/Living Will?

An Advanced Medical Directive/Living Will clearly states what type of life-sustaining measures an individual wants and does not want in the event of a terminal condition. In the event of your incapacitation, the advanced medical directive communicates your wishes in regard to various forms of life support. It is often used in conjunction with a medical/health care power of attorney.

Why do you need an Advanced Medical Directive/Living Will?

Advance Medical Directives/Living Will are not just for older adults or elders. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it’s important for all adults to prepare these documents. Planning for the future can help avoid potential issues with medical treatment and life support, not to mention relieve family members from carrying the extra weight of having to make those decisions on your behalf. During moments of grief, avoid having any potential disagreements and unnecessary legal conversations.

Common Advance Medical Directive/Living Will Topics

Is an Advanced Medical Directive/Living Will the same as a Medical/Health care Power of Attorney?

A medical/health care power of attorney is not the same as a advanved medical directive/living will. A advanced medical directive/living will only applies when you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. If you are temporarily unconscious or unable to communicate, a medical/health care power of attorney would be needed to make any medical decisions.

When an Advanced Medical Directive/Living Will Begins

Your advanced medical directive/living will document takes effect when your doctor declares that you lack the “capacity” to make your own health care decisions. Typically you no longer have the capacity to make health care decisions if:

  • You do not understand the nature and consequences of the health care decisions you are required to make
  • You cannot communicate your decisions orally, in writing or through gestures

Living Will / Advance Medical Directive Considerations

When creating this document, you will be asked to review some of the following:

  • Create directives for your end-of-life treatment and/or appoint a Medical/Health Care Power of Attorney (who that agent should be)
  • Agent consent for medical research or trials, or donation of organs
  • If you are in a persistent vegetative state, do you want life-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn?
  • Certain conditions to be met before life-prolonging care is withheld or withdrawn?
  • Unique or special requests?

Additional Help and Resources

Rokisky , McCune, Wilharm and Blair has been the Ohio Valley’s leader in Elder Law and we continue to provide the community with information through articles and videos.

Subscribe to our bi-weekly show “Senior Living Today” or watch it live on WTOV9 (Sundays 11:00 am).

You can also read more about Estate Planning and Elder Law on our Estate Planning Blog.

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