Understanding Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney

By James H. Wilson Law Firm

Key Health Care Decisions in Advance Directives

At the James H. Wilson Law Firm, we guide our clients through the nuances of drafting their living will and durable power of attorney for health care. These documents empower you with choice and provide the necessary flexibility to convey your healthcare preferences.

The Scope of Your Living Will

A living will—also known as a health care declaration—allows you to specify your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event you are unable to communicate. While medical expertise isn’t a prerequisite to complete this document, understanding common medical procedures for seriously ill patients can inform your decisions.

Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatments

Common life-sustaining treatments addressed in most living wills include:

  • Blood transfusions and blood product deliveries
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Diagnostic exams
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Medication administration
  • Respirator use
  • Surgical interventions

For further details, we recommend consulting with your physician, hospital patient representatives, or insurance plans, as well as reviewing self-help resources.

Choices Regarding Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

In the terminal stages of a severe illness or in a state of permanent unconsciousness, artificial nutrition and hydration may be necessary. This typically involves IV feeding or tube feeding to supply nutrients and fluids. Your living will should reflect your preferences on whether to receive or withhold such sustenance.

Embracing Palliative Care

Opting out of life-prolonging measures doesn’t preclude you from receiving palliative care to alleviate discomfort and maintain quality of life. This can be managed at home, in hospices, or in hospitals, and your living will can encompass your desires concerning palliative care.

Directives on Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and POLST

For individuals adamant about declining resuscitation or specific treatments, a DNR order or a POLST form should be considered. These options direct medical personnel regarding your preferences in critical situations and can outline broader medical directives.

Authority Vested in Your Health Care Agent

A health care agent, designated through your durable power of attorney for health care, becomes your voice in overseeing medical decisions if you’re incapacitated. This individual can hold varying degrees of decision-making power per your instructions and is responsible for implementing the health care preferences detailed in your living will.

Posthumous Wishes: Organ Donation and Final Arrangements

While the authority of your health care agent often ends with your passing, you can extend specific directives regarding organ donation and the disposition of your body within your documents.

Defining Your Health Care Agent’s Boundaries

Your autonomy remains paramount, and your agent’s role is activated only under your inability to make decisions. If limiting your agent’s scope suits your comfort level, do so with careful consideration. Flexibility can be essential to address unforeseen medical challenges.

At James H. Wilson Law Firm, we’re dedicated to ensuring your healthcare preferences are respected and legally secured. For personalized guidance, please contact us at 804.740.6464.

Contact Us

  1. 1 Free Consultation
  2. 2 Reasonable Fees
  3. 3 Real Solutions to Real Problems

Fill out the contact form or call us at 804.740.6464 to schedule your free consultation.

Leave Us a Message