power of attorney lawyer in Doylestown
Why you should have a Living Will
Many people feel if they were faced with a terminal end-stage medical condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness, with no hope of recovery, that keeping them alive by artificial means would serve only to prolong a hopeless situation and postpone the inevitable while running up unnecessary financial burdens and costs.
Having a Living Will (Advanced Health Care Directive) will assure that your wishes concerning life-sustaining measures are considered and honored in the event of your incompetency during an end-stage medical condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. Additionally, having a Living Will will add certainty to the uncertainty that your surviving loved ones would undoubtedly experience if there is no advance healthcare directive, in the event of an end stage medical condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. There have been numerous high profile horror stories where a person was kept alive on life support for a long period of time and no one had the authorization or directive to remove the life support systems to let the person die naturally, even though that would certainly have been the person’s wish. Most people want to avoid this scenario and the only way to do it is with a properly drafted and executed advance healthcare directive.
As part of your Living Will, you appoint a health care agent and provide clear written directives so that your agent clearly understands your feelings and beliefs concerning life-sustaining treatments. This person is also authorized to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if it becomes necessary. You may also appoint a successor or back-up agent to act in the event that your primary agent is unable or unavailable to act. In the event that your designated agent is your spouse, that designation would be revoked as a matter of law upon either party filing a divorce action (unless specifically stated otherwise in the Living Will), in which case the successor or back-up agent would then be authorized to act.
Pennsylvania Law provides specific guidelines for the preparation of a legally enforceable and valid Living Will, and an attorney is best suited to prepare such an important document. The last thing anyone would want is to be in a position where a Living Will should need to be used, but it cannot be honored or used because of a legal deficiency concerning its preparation or execution.
Once prepared and signed, your Living Will may be provided to your doctor, your spouse or a close family member or friend, and perhaps your lawyer, so that it will be readily available in the event that it is needed.
When a Living Will kicks in – Some people have an impression that a Living Will gives their agent the right to “pull the plug” on them anytime they might be unconscious or otherwise incompetent, but this is not true. The Pennsylvania Statutes provide that a Living Will only becomes operative when “the principal is determined by the attending physician to be incompetent and to have an end-stage medical condition or to be permanently unconscious”.