topic | life planning - medical directives

Step 2: express wishes for life support (i.e. living will)

The second directive expresses a person's wishes for life support treatments when unable to communicate (e.g. coma, 'vegetative state'). In many states this is called a Living Will. In other states, such as Michigan which does not recognize a separate "Living Will" document, this directive should be incorporated as part of a Patient Advocate Designation in Step 1. The person's wishes for life support treatment can specify whether or not to provide:

  • Cardiopulmonary treatments
  • Artificial respiration
  • Artificial means of feeding and hydration
  • Hospice treatment
  • Bedside clergy
  • Organ donation
  • Artificial life support (length of time)
  • An autopsy (unless required by law)

A Living Will, or its equivalent, is for medical purposes only and is not the same as a Will.

Activity 1
Identify questions regarding wishes for life support

The legal documents used to express a person's wishes for life support in case of incapacitation are state specific. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website provides samples for each state:

Activity 2
Document wishes for life support

Seek the advice of an estate attorney to complete and activate the state specific Medical Directives.

Activity 3
Securely store Medical Directives

The completed document should be securely stored and copies distributed to others, such as the executor. An estate attorney can provide guidance.

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