Living Wills -
10 Most Common Questions
By Barbara C. Phillips Platinum Quality Author
Today, more than ever,
you need a Living Will. Discover the 10 most common
questions you need answered so you too can have peace of
1. What is an advanced health care directive?
Advanced health care directives are written instructions
that communicate your wishes regarding care and treatment
should you no longer be able to make your own health care
2. What are the components?
An Advanced Health Care Directive includes:
* A Living Will which outlines your medical and treatment
* Health Care Power of Attorney the person you
appoint to make medical and treatment decisions when you
are no longer able to do so yourself.
3. How are they used?
If you are no longer able to make choices regarding your
health care, these documents will communicate to your
physicians what treatments you want or don t want
such as artificial administration of food and fluids, or
even the use of CPR or a breathing machine.
4. When do they become effective?
These forms are only effective when you cannot
communicate your desires yourself. It may be used in
situations where you are terminally ill and will die
soon. In that case, life-sustaining procedures that only
prolong the dying process will be withheld as you have
indicated. Another time they will come into play is if
you suffer from an event or illness that leaves you
permanently in a coma. Because situations are varied, it
becomes important to be as clear as you can, and make
sure your POA understands your desires.
5. What happens if I dont have one?
Ever state has a hierarchy that is followed that
describes who is your next of kin and who will make
decisions for you. For instance, if you are a minor
child, it will be your parents. If you are an adult with
a legal spouse, that person becomes your decision maker.
It becomes complicated when family members/significant
others disagree about what your desires are. This is why
these forms are so important.
6. Can I change my mind?
You can change your mind about what you have written and
who you choose as your decision maker at any time by
destroying the old forms and making a new one. Make sure
the new forms are given out to those that need them such
as your decision make, family/significant others, health
care provider, hospital, etc.
7. If I have a living will, does that mean I wont
This is a common misconception, and the answers is no.
These forms do not mean NO CARE. You should always get
the care and comfort that you require.
8. Where do I get these forms?
Often times, your health care provider or hospital will
have them. However, its best if you do them before
you ever see these providers. You can obtain them from
your attorney, or there are several online sources where
you can get state specific documents for free.
9. Do I need to see a lawyer?
No. You can fill these forms out yourself following the
form directions.. That said, if you situation is sticky,
it would not hurt to get professional legal advice. In
most states the forms do not have to be notarized. Make
sure you get the required witnesses to sign these forms.
They cannot be relatives or employees of your health care
provider, hospital, clinic, etc.
10. Where can I find more information?
Online, www.LawHelp.org provides free information for
most states. Most state departments of health or your
state legal association will be able to point you in the
EzineArticles Expert Author Barbara C. Phillips
©2005 Barbara C. Phillips, MN, NP Are you living with
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