With everything going in the world today, you will hear people speaking about three types of documents that you may be unfamiliar with or you or not exactly sure what they are and what they do. These three documents are:
- A Living Will or also called an Advance Medical Directive.
- A Medical Power of Attorney or sometimes called a Healthcare Proxy.
- A DNR – Do not resuscitate order.
In this brief article, we will look at each of these in a little depth.
A Living Will (or sometimes referred to as an Advance Medical Directive) is often a very misunderstood document. It is a legal document that allows you to establish – in advance – the type of medical care you would want to receive if you were to become permanently or terminally ill. Of course, the most often overlooked aspect of this document is the fact that you must be unconscious and unable to tell your physician or family what type of life-sustaining care you want to receive, since if you are able to communicate your desires to your physician, then there is no need for this advance declaration, as you will be able to communicate your desires yourself.
In Louisiana, you do not need a physician to complete a Living Will. You can complete the forms on your own, but two witnesses are required to sign with you. The document does not need to be notarized, but it often is which does allow multiple certified copies to be made by the Notary, which can be handy, and will further allow the Notary/Lawyer to provide additional certified copies at a later date if need be. The most important step, however, is to be sure your family understands your wishes and has a copy of your Living Will so they can access it in the event you cannot speak for yourself.
It is also very important to understand when a Living Will can be implemented. And this is the part which is most often misunderstood. But if you take your time and read the document, you will see it is all spelled out in the four corners of the document. For it to come into play, you must be:
1. Terminally ill and unable to tell your physician your wishes about healthcare treatments.
2. Two physicians, one of whom must be your treating physician, must decide that you have no reasonable possibility of surviving.
And here is the actual language from the Living Will form that is often used in the State of Louisiana.
If at any time I should have an incurable injury, disease or illness, or be in a continual profound comatose state with no reasonable chance of recovery, certified to be a terminal and irreversible condition by two physicians who have personally examined me, one of whom shall be my attending physician, and the physicians have determined that my death will occur whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized and where the application of life-sustaining procedure would serve only to p