States recognize in their law and public policy, the personal right of the individual patient to make voluntary, informed choices to accept, to reject or to choose among alternative courses of medical and surgical treatment.
WHY LIVING WILLS
Modern advances in science and medicine have made possible the prolongation of the lives of many seriously ill individuals, without always offering realistic prospects for improvement or cure.
For some individuals the possibility of extended life is experienced as meaningful and of benefit. For others, artificial prolongation of life may seen to provide nothing medically necessary or beneficial, serving only to extend suffering and prolong the dying process.
States recognize the inherent dignity and value of human life and within this context recognizes the fundamental right of individuals to make health care decisions to have life-prolonging medical or surgical means or procedures provided, with- held, or withdrawn.
States recognize the right of competent adults to plan ahead for health care decisions through the execution of advance directives, such as living wills and durable powers of attorney, and to have their wishes respected, subject to certain limitations.
PURPOSE OF LIVING WILLS
In order to assure respect for patients previously expressed wishes when the capacity to participate actively in decision making has been lost or impaired; to facilitate and encourage a sound decision making process in which patients, health care representatives, families, physicians, and other health care professionals are active participants; to properly consider patients interests both in self-determination and in well-being; and to provide necessary and appropriate safeguards concerning the termination of life-sustaining treatment for incompetent patients as the law and public policy of this State, the Legislatures have enacted Living Will/ Advance Directives for Health Care Acts.
REQUIREMENTS OF STATUTE
The advance directive for health care (Living Will) requires a writing executed in accordance with the requirements of thestate law. It must be either signed and dated in front of an attorney at law or other person authorized to administer oaths, or in the presence of two subscribing adult witness.
If the two adult witness are used, they both must attest that the declarant is of sound mind and not under undue influence. A designated health care representative shall not act as a witness to the execution of the advance directive. Since this is a legal document, it must be executed properly to be valid under the statute
HEALTH CARE REPRESENTATIVE
The declarant may designate one or more alternative health care representatives. Health care representative means the person designated by you under the Living Will for the purpose of making health care decisions on the your behalf.
WHEN DOES THE ADVANCE DIRECTIVE BECOME OPERATIVE
An advance directive becomes operative when (1) it is transmitted to the attending physician or to the health care institution, and (2) it is determined pursuant to the Act that the patient lacks capacity to make a particular health care decision.
Treatment decisions pursuant to an advance directive shall not be made and implemented until there has been a reasonable opportunity to establish and where appropriate confirm, a reliable diagnosis for the patient which shall include the attending physicians opinion concerning the nature, cause, extent, and probable duration of the patients incapacity, and shall be made a part of the patients medical records. For additional information or to have a Living Will prepared, see your attorney. In addition, be certain your Last Will and testament is up to date.