No one likes to think about being unable to consent to medical treatment or being otherwise unable to communicate with your health care providers about your medical care. Likewise, no one enjoys the process of making end-of-life decisions, many of which are extremely complex and difficult to make. However, if you become incapacitated or unable to express your wishes, you want to ensure that your healthcare providers and family members are aware of your health care wishes and decisions. The way to do this is through the execution of a health care directive, which is also commonly referred to as an advance directive or living will. When used in conjunction with your durable power of attorney for health care decisions, your designated agent will have the ability to completely address all of your medical needs according to your wishes.
More specifically, a living will outlines the type, level, and duration of medical care that you would like to receive in various situations. For instance, you might wish to refuse all medical treatment, to only receive medical treatment under selected circumstances, or to have your health care providers administer all medical treatment possible in order to sustain your life. Living wills can address whether you want to remain on life support, and for how long, if you are in a persistent vegetative state or are terminally ill. You also can refuse blood transfusions or other types of procedures if you so choose.
Keep in mind that your living will comes into effect only when your treating physician or two attending physicians state in writing that you are in a terminal or permanently unconscious medical condition and you are unable to make any medical decisions on your own. Therefore, so long as you are able to consciously make your own medical decisions, your health care providers need not look to your living will for direction.
At Elder Law Group PLLC we have created thousands of detailed, comprehensive estate plans,  which contain health care directives or living wills. For the reasons stated above, we highly recommend that you include a living will, a critical life planning document, as part of your larger estate plan. We help you understand your options, and help you determine the most appropriate type of estate plan for you and your family. Contact the Washington living will attorneys of Elder Law Group PLLC at 509.468.0551 and learn how we can help.