Living wills are important legal documents. A living will gives the person signing it, the power to stop any life-sustaining procedure if that person has an incurable non-treatable illness or disease in which the life-sustaining procedure only artificially prolongs life. Two doctors (one of whom is the treating doctor) must certify that all of the above elements are met.
In the event that a person doesn’t have a living will, the decision to allow the person to die under the above circumstances will be left to other family members if the person dying loses capacity.
The following is the descending order of classes of persons that will make decisions concerning the patient’s death if there is no living will.
First, A person designated by the patient to make the decision in a written document.
Secondly, the patient’s court-appointed tutor or curator;
Thirdly, the patient’s spouse not legally separated;
Next, the patient’s children;
Next, the patient’s parents; and
Next, the patient’s siblings; and finally,
The patient’s other ascendants or descendants.
It is important to remember that if there is anyone in a class, the decision is made by a person(s) in that class. If there is no person(s) in that higher class, the decision is made by the next class and so forth, and so on.
It is also important to know that the decision making is not democratic. If any person in the class objects to the artificial technology being removed, it will not be removed to allow the patient to die.
If you have any questions about living wills, you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.