A will is a legal instrument that allows you to determine how your assets will be distributed to your heirs when you die. But what is a “Living Will?” Basically, a Living Will tells everyone what course of medical treatment, if any, you want followed if you are ever unable to communicate your wishes for yourself. A common example is a DNR or “Do Not Resuscitate” order. Another example is a written statement that you do not want to be placed on life support if you are brain dead. A Living Will can also be referred to as an “Advanced Directive.”
There are essentially three types of living wills in Los Angeles California. With one type, you can give instructions to your healthcare provider setting out the type of medical treatment you would want to receive in a given situation. With another, you can give someone you chose to be a “proxy” the power to make decisions regarding medical treatment for you, without receiving any specific instructions from you. Finally, you can have a living will that does both.
What is required to make a valid living will in Los Angeles California?
In Los Angeles California, a Living Will must be in writing and signed by you or by someone with your permission. The document must also be witnessed by two other adults. A Living Will is always revocable and can be revoked by you verbally regardless of your physical or mental condition at the time. Also, a living will that is executed in another state, but complies with the laws in California is still valid.
The benefits of a living will.
The most important benefit of having a living will is that you have the ability to make these future decisions now. So, when you no longer have the ability to make those decisions or you are unable to explain them to your physician or family, your wishes can still be carried out. A living will also relieves your family of the burden and stress of anticipating what you might want, at a time when emotions are running high.
It is important to be specific.
Contrary to what you might think, using vague language in a Living Will, in order to allow for any circumstance, is not the best way to go. The more specific you make your instructions or directives, the less confusion there will likely be when the time comes to make decisions based on them. Vague terms will inevitably lead to conflicting interpretations between family members and/or physicians. For example, you may expect that the directive “no heroic measures” would mean no artificial nutrition or hydration (ANH). However, your doctor may not interpret your directive the same way.
Do I have to give up my right to any medical care?
Creating a living will does not mean you have rejected any and all types of medical treatment. You will not be abandoned by your physician simply because you have a living will. This legal document will only have an impact on the measures your physician deems are useless or unnecessary based on your directives. Your healthcare providers will continue to attend to your needs and comfort while you are in their care.