Hickman Lowder

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Why a Living Will is Important

| May 17, 2019 | Estate Planning, Wills

Some clients are hesitant about signing a Living Will. Many believe that signing a Living Will is a death sentence and the doctor will not save them if they are in severe distress. Others believe signing a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) in a hospital is equivalent to a Living Will. However, a Living Will’s purpose is far from these beliefs.

A Living Will is an instruction to a doctor. It states that, if you are in a “permanently unconscious” state or have a “terminal condition,” you do not want any extreme life saving measures, such as a ventilator to help you breathe or a feeding tube so you have nutrients.  Instead, you want “comfort care.” These terms are all defined in the Ohio Revised Code and in the Living Will document. To have a permanently unconscious state or terminal condition diagnosis, two doctors must agree.

For example, you were just in a car accident and now you have brain damage. The doctors agree there is no chance of recovery and you will need a feeding tube and ventilator to survive. Because you signed a Living Will, the doctors will provide comfort care so you may pass peacefully.

Without a Living Will, the decision falls on your agent in your Health Care Power of Attorney or your next of kin. Most people don’t want to put their loved ones in the challenging position of making this difficult decision on their own. By including the parameters of your choice in a Living Will, both you and your family can be comfortable with the decision.