How do you define a Living Will? How do you write one? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-08-2005, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How would you definie a Living Will? How do you even begin?

I know I need a lawyer to help us out with our official will, but how does one go about writing a Living Will? Some of you have written one, so what did you do? Write about your parenting philosophy? Religious philosophy? Maybe I'm not exactly sure what one is.




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#2 of 5 Old 02-08-2005, 09:43 PM
 
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We had our living wills drawn up at the same time as our regular wills (by our lawyer). All they really do (as far as I know) is give some direction about what sort of health care you do or do not want under various conditions (e.g., whether you want to receive food if in an irreversible coma). They also give you the opportunity to name somebody to make those decisions for you if you can't.

Do you mean an ethical will? I know that some people write these up to give directions to children's caregivers, pass on philosophical ideas they have, etc.
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#3 of 5 Old 02-08-2005, 09:44 PM
 
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There are two documents that could be what you're talking about.

The traditional "Living Will" form is also sometimes called the declaration to physicians. It's a specific form that was designed by your state that allows you to specify what you would like done in several medical situations. In my state (Wisconsin) it tells your doctor whether you would like heroic measures used to save your life if you're in a terminal condition (Defined as death being immanent) and whether you want feeding tubes or life sustaining procedures if you're in a permanent vegetative state. A living will ONLY applies to the situations on the document -- you CANNOT personalise it. It's a series of check boxes.

The other document some people think of when they think of living wills is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This is a more broad document where you decide on someone and give them power to make medical decisions for you if you're unable to make them yourself. It can pertain to any situations where you can't make your own decisions, not just terminal state and being a vegetable.

So, for instance, if you were in a car accident and knocked on the head but expected to recover, a Power of Attorney would give someone the authority to accept treatment on your behalf, for instance if you needed a broken bone set or something, until you were well enough to make your own decisions again, where as a living will WOULDN'T do that, because it's just between you and your doctor and only comes into play if you're terminal or a vegetable. Many people choose to just do a Power of Attorney rather than a living will, but if you have strong feelings about life support I would reccomend doing both.

You can also customize a power of attorney for health care to cover health care issues that you feel strongly about -- If you under no circumstances would want chemotherapy, for instance, or if you're of a religious denomination that is against the use of blood products those are the sorts of things that belong in a power of attorney.

A living will or a power of attorney isn't something that you write out like you would a normal will; there are forms for your specific state that you can find online at www.partnershipforcaring.org, and I'm sure other places as well. You're attorney can help you fill the forms out if you have questions, and often hospital or clinic social workers can help as well and will do so free of charge.

These documents are so, so, so important and I'm always really excited to see people getting them in order! Good luck working on them!

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#4 of 5 Old 02-10-2005, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Belleweather: Thanks!!! Again - really great info. So, are you a law student? I notice from your siggy that you're a student and TTC. Good luck! It took us a while w/ds2 due to the allergy meds. Don't take Claritin.

Okay, so I got it. Finally. I understand these docs and I do need an atty. I think I'll start looking for one and get our paperwork together soon. Deadline: spring.

Now, I think an ethical will must be the other thing I was talking about. I think I'll start a new thread about this and see if others may respond to that. Any advice??? This may be the area that is truly troubling me.

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#5 of 5 Old 02-10-2005, 09:00 PM
 
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Yep, Loftmama, You've got me pegged. I'm a second year Law Student, and I spent last semester working at a clinic doing a lot of Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for elderly people, which was totally eye opening. I'm now nagging all my family members to make sure they've got their documents done. Lots of fun at family gatherings, let me tell you!

And thanks so much for the tip about Claritin... I've been off my allergy meds for months since if they dry my nose up they probably also dry up other parts of me... but DH is on Claritin so now I'm off to google more info!

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