the art of caring for your aging loved one

Living Will

A Living Will or Agreement for Health Care (there are many different names for similar documents (ask a lawyer in your area) is designed to provide explicit direction in near-death situations, specifying whether the patient wants all possible medical intervention or certain limits on treatment.

It deals with health issues.

This contrasts with an Estate Will that deals with financial and property matters.

Your Aging Loved One may appoint someone as his legal representative to handle his personal and health decisions if he becomes unable to do so, such as consenting to surgery or dental work.

This is the place to indicate wishes regarding organ donations.

The lawyer may encourage Auntie to sign a Representational Agreement for Health Care or Living Will, giving authority to someone to make health care decisions if she is unable to do so one day due to mental incapacity or inability to communicate.

Auntie may stipulate some restrictions. Ask a lawyer for advice. We don't want any grey areas here!

Keep the original document in a safe place.

Give a certified true copy of the Agreement to the doctor. He will keep it in your Aging Loved One's chart.

Tell him the name, address, and phone number of your Aging Loved One's executor.

In the event of a life-threatening illness, Auntie's wishes are in writing for all to see. One or more family members may express, at a time of stress, their desires to proceed differently.

The doctor will follow the Agreement, respecting his patient's wishes.

Laws change from time to time.

Do you need help understanding the significance of this document?