Living Wills: Feeding Tubes

A living will is a written declaration by a person to be allowed to die by not allowing it to be artificially prolonged by life-sustaining procedures if certain elements are met. The most common example of a medical situation in which a living will could be utilized is where a person is in a coma on a respirator with no chance of recovery or treatment.

The disease or illness must be incurable and certified to be a terminal and irreversible condition by two physicians who have personally examined the declarant. (one of whom shall be the declarant’s attending physician. the physicians must determine that the declarant’s death will occur whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized and where the application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to prolong artificially the dying process.

Following the infamous Schiavo case in Florida, the Louisiana Legislature added additional language to living wills to provide an opportunity by declarants of living will to express their intentions concerning feeding tubes and other methods to have food or water administered invasively.

Therefore, in addition to executing the living will provisions, the declarant is given the opportunity to initiate either of the following statements in a living will, as to whether food or water should be administered invasively or not:

“That all life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration, be withheld or withdrawn so that food and water will not be administered invasively. That life-sustaining procedures, except nutrition and hydration, be withheld or withdrawn so that food and water can be administered invasively.”

Should you have any questions about wills, powers of attorney, or living wills, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney.