A living will is probably the most misnamed legal document. A living will has nothing to do with living. It actually has to do with dying. It is also not a traditional will. It does not give property to certain persons or entities upon a person’s death. It is actually is a directive by a person to be permitted to die if certain specific conditions are met.
If a person does not have a living will, the decision to continue to apply life-sustaining procedures will be left to the person’s spouse, children or other relatives. If any one person within an authorized group wants to continue the life-sustaining procedures, the procedures will be continued.
This is an extremely emotional decision. Most people want to make this difficult decision away from their close family members. To do this, the person must execute a living will.
It is important to remember that under Louisiana law, euthanasia is illegal. Family members cannot initiate actions or treatments to bring about a relatives death. In order for a living will to have an application, certain specific elements are all required to be met. These include:
- The person must have an incurable injury, disease, or illness;
- This medical condition certified to be a terminal;
- This medical condition must be irreversible;
- This medical condition must be certified by two (2) physicians who have personally examined the person (one of whom shall be my attending physician);
- The physicians must determine that the person’s death will occur whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized.; and
- The physicians must determine that the application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to prolong the dying process artificially.
If all of these elements are met, a person may direct in their written living will that the life-sustaining procedures not be started or if started, that the procedures be terminated.
A person interested in living wills as well as powers of attorney, wills, and health care directives, should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.