What is the purpose of a Living Will declaration form?

What is the purpose of a Living Will declaration form?

The Living Will declaration means to document your wish that the life-sustaining treatment be withdrawn or withheld if you are in a permanently unconscious state or in a terminal condition and are unable to make informed medical decisions.

  1. Life-sustaining treatment includes any health care like technologically or artificially supplied hydration and nutrition, that will serve to prolong the process of dying.
  2. Terminal illness or terminal condition means an incurable, irreversible and untreatable condition caused by an illness, disease or injury.
  3. Permanently unconscious state is an irreversible condition in which a person is permanently unaware of himself and his surroundings.

Why do you need a Health Care Power of Attorney form?

Having a Living Will form does not affect the responsibility of health care personnel to provide the necessary comfort care to you. Comfort care usually refers to any measure that’s taken to diminish discomfort or pain, but not to postpone death. In most states, a Living Will declaration is applicable only to individuals in a permanently unconscious state or in a terminal condition. If you wish to get direct medical treatment in other circumstances as well, then you should prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney for that. The Health Care Power of Attorney form gives the designated person (an agent or an attorney-in-fact) the authority to make most of the health care decisions for you (including nursing, dental, surgical and psychological) if you lose the capacity or are unable to make informed health care decisions for yourself. The authority is effective only when the attending physician examines and determines that you are unable to make informed health care decisions for yourself. As long as you can make informed health care decisions for yourself, you can retain the right to make all health care and other medical decisions. You may also limit the authority of the health care decisions for your agent. The authority for making health care decisions for the agent generally include the authority to give informed assent, or to withdraw informed assent, or to refuse to give informed assent to any care, service, treatment, or procedure to diagnose, maintain, or treat a mental or physical condition.

Overlooking a health care power of attorney can be costly:

Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) is not given the same attention as a Durable General Power of Attorney, and is a very important estate planning tool. Appointing someone to act as your HCPOA agent plays a significant role for the patient advocate. If an HCPOA is not properly drafted, then in the event you have to admit your loved one into the hospital in the unfortunate situation, you would have no authority to make the medical decisions on your loved one’s behalf. The proper procedure is to file a petition with the court and then be appointed as their Guardian or Conservator. This process can be a bit time consuming and even costly.

An HCPOA is a simple document that protects your wishes as the principal and provides your advocate with the convenience that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

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Sagar is co-founder and CTO at Multia, a leading creative agency in Pune. He started his venture when he was 16, he has won numerous international and national web development competitions and has worked on 100+ web, mobile and online marketing projects. He’s a globe-trotter and has traveled to San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dubai, Jakarta and Bali Islands.
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