Do I need a living will? I suggest that you go ahead and get a living will. They are not very expensive. It is also called a declaration wherein you state in writing that you do not want your life prolonged in the event that you have a terminal condition, end-state condition or permanent vegetative state and you direct and authorize life support to be discontinued.
There was a case several years ago called the Schaivo case where someone was left on life support for years and years and years. She did not have a living will, and she made an oral declaration saying that she did not want to be put on life support. The family as well as the husband spent over $1 million on attorney fees litigating the issue as to whether or not life support should be discontinued. Eventually, life support was discontinued.
With a living will, it does not keep you off of life support in the event that 911 is called. Even if you have a living will, they will come, revive you and take you to the nearest emergency room. If you’ve lost consciousness or whatever the situation is, they will wait to stabilize you. Once you’re stabilized, they will evaluate you to determine whether you’re in a permanent vegetative state, whether you’ve got any other complications. And then once they make that evaluation then they’re authorized to contact whoever the healthcare surrogate is, a person you designate in your living will, as to whether or not you’re authorized to disconnect life support. And then that person would then authorize the discontinuance of life support pursuant to your written instructions.
Many people say, “Well, I don’t want to be put on life support.” There is a form called a “Do not resuscitate,” which is a DNR form; however, you have to be under a doctor’s care, and it’s usually whenever you’re in hospice and posted on a colored form over your hospital bed whenever you’re in hospice or in the hospital. And if you do have a “Do not resuscitate,” and you go into a coronary arrest or some other life-threatening situation, they will not call in 911 or administer emergency care. So it’s my suggestion, just as a precautionary measure – no one usually wants to be sustained if you’re in a permanent vegetative state – to have a living will so your loved ones will not be burdened with that problem if you’re never going to reach consciousness again and they have to support you in an assisted living facility or in a hospital.
So I suggest you do have a living will. If you have any questions, give me a call at 727-847-2288.