There have been numerous national media cases regarding incapacitated persons whose interests were jeopardized when family members, friends, and even government entities were forced to make difficult decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment.
By executing a valid Living Will you have the opportunity to make and direct certain difficult medical decisions prior to incapacity and to avoid having your loved ones make difficult decisions regarding your care without your personal direction.
Generally speaking, a living will is an instrument that is executed with all the same formalities as a Last Will & Testament, by which a person states their intention to refuse all medical treatment and to release healthcare providers from all liability if the person is both terminally ill and incapable of communicating their refusal.
Practice Point: In Arizona, living wills are both recognized and honored. A person may execute a living will exclusively or make the living will a part of their Power of Attorney. A healthcare provider that follows good faith healthcare decisions based on the provisions in the living will may not be held criminally or civilly liable for their actions.
The purpose of a living will is to allow the declarant (you!) the power to decide, while in good health, what measures you do and do not want to taken to court, and to extend your life when you are dying. The real purpose for executing a living will is to make the most difficult decisions regarding life-sustaining treatments for yourself – and not to force your family, spouse, children, or friends to make that decision without knowing your true intentions. In essence, by making the decision to receive or to refuse life-sustaining treatments prior to your incapacity, you effectively save your loved ones from suffering the anguish and guilt of making those decisions for you.
Living Wills & YOU
Why do YOU need a Living Will?
Every person over the age of 18 should execute a Living Will. Receiving or refusing life-sustaining treatment is a very difficult and personal decision. It is always best that you make that decision for yourself and protect your loved ones from having to make personal decisions for you. There have been many nationally publicized cases regarding the benefits and disadvantages of keeping loved ones alive by life-sustaining treatments, such as artificial nutrition and hydration (“feeding tubes”) and life support. However, through the simple execution of a Living Will, many painful decisions regarding the continuation or termination of life-sustaining treatments may be made by you, and not those closest to you.