A living will (also known as an advance directive) is a legally binding document that allows you to outline your end-of-life medical preferences if you cannot communicate them. This document informs your doctors and caregivers of your choices in certain circumstances, such as when you are in a coma or permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or in the final stage of dementia
Similarly, your living will specifies the medications, treatments, and medical procedures you do or do not want to be used to manage your pain or keep you alive. For example, your living will may indicate that you do not wish to survive on artificial nutrition or hydration.
In North Carolina, the living will statute allows terminally ill patients to decline special medical measures to keep them alive. A person’s wishes outlined in the living will are often implemented by another party through a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
When Does A Living Will Go Into Effect?
Typically, a living will takes effect if a patient is unable to communicate their wishes (as determined by a doctor), and they are suffering from a terminal illness, are in a coma or permanently unconscious, or they are in the final stages of dementia.
A Doctor will determine whether you have the capacity to convey how you would like to be treated. If a doctor determines you do not have the capacity to make medical decisions, you are suffering from one of the three illnesses described above, and you have appointed someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, then your living will take effect.
What Is the Importance of a Living Will?
Most people don’t create a living will because they believe they are not old enough to have one or they are simply scared to think about end-of-life matters. However, there are many good reasons to have a living will that outlines your wishes if you become incapacitated. Some of the benefits of preparing a living will are:
- It gives you complete control over your medical treatment, medications, and procedures. It also helps ensure you get your desired medical attention when you’re too weak to communicate.
- A living will relieves caregivers and doctors of the stress of making difficult medical decisions during critical moments. It prevents major disagreements among your family members concerning the choices they would make if you unexpectedly became incapacitated. Severe medical conditions often require people to make big decisions regarding the treatment. This can easily attract conflicting opinions about the best treatment options, which can sometimes lead to heated arguments, compromising family relationships during difficult times.
- Preparing a living will can also eliminate expensive medical bills for your loved ones. This is particularly helpful if you end up in a vegetative state or coma and need life support.
Need A Living Will? Contact Rountree Losee Today
At Rountree Losee LLP, our Wilmington estate planning attorneys will help you create and execute your living will to ensure your family is at peace even during the trying moments of your severe illness. Please get in touch with us now to consult with our legal professionals.