Have you considered what would happen if an accident or illness were to leave you incapacitated and unable to communicate what treatment you would like to receive?
If you haven’t already, you might want to consider making a Living Will.
I already have an Enduring Power of Attorney, why would I need a Living Will?
Holding an Enduring Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Welfare simply means medical professionals can enlist the assistance of your attorney regarding your treatment. Your attorney, however, is unable to legally refuse standard medical treatment to save your life, regardless of your prior intentions.
This is where a Living Will, also known as an Advanced Directive can benefit you.
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a document that allows you to express your wishes on medical care when you are in an incapacitated state and are unable to communicate these decisions.
It gives you the ability to:
Refuse medical treatment where your quality of life is compromised;
Outline what you consider to be quality of life;
Outline the types of treatment you do not wish to receive e.g. resuscitation, life support;
Suggest what persons the healthcare team should consult with in relation to your medical treatment;
Indicate what funeral arrangements you may like, including costs, religious and cultural decisions, any specific music and readings;
Decide if you want your body to be used for science or transplant purposes.
Who should have a Living Will?
It is recommended that everyone should have in place a Living Will to supplement any existing Powers of Attorney as it sets your intentions in a concise manner. This would not only be extremely helpful in guiding your family’s decisions during an understandably stressful and turbulent time, but also presents as a persuasive request to the medical professionals.
When will I need a Living Will?
You will need a Living Will if you have sustained severe mental or physical injury that has substantially impaired your cognitive capacity with a slim likelihood of recovery.
A Living Will does not provide a legal obligation on family members or medical practitioners but is a persuasive guidance. It will be followed in so far as is practicable with “good medical practice”.