More Frequently Asked Questions About Living Wills

Can I appoint someone to make medical decisions for me in my living will? Yes, our form of living will allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are not competent to make your own medical decisions.

Whom should I consider when I appoint a health care representative? The person you choose to be your health care representative has the legal right to accept or refuse medical treatment on your behalf and to assure that your medical treatment wishes are carried out. You should choose a person who knows you well, and who is familiar with your feelings about different types of medical treatment and the conditions under which you would choose to accept or refuse a specific treatment or all treatment. A health care representative must understand that his or her responsibility is to implement your wishes even if your representative or others might disagree with them. So it is important to select someone in whose judgment you have confidence.

Should I discuss my wishes with my health care representative and others? Yes, your health care representative is the person who speaks for you when you can’t speak for yourself. It is very important that he or she has a clear understanding of your feelings, attitudes and health care preferences. You should also discuss your wishes with your physician, family members and others who will be involved in caring for you.

Does my health care representative have the authority to make all health care decisions for me? It is up to you to say what your health care representative can and cannot decide. You may wish to give him or her broad authority to make all treatment decisions including decisions to forego life-sustaining measures. On the other hand, you may wish to restrict the authority to specific treatments or circumstances. Your representative has to respect these limitations.

Is my doctor obligated to talk to my health care representative? Yes. Your health care representative has the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf, in consultation with your doctor. Your doctor is legally obligated to consult with your chosen representative and to respect his or her decision as if it were your decision. Our living will has a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) provisions which allows any medical provider to discuss your medical condition with your health care representative.

Is my health care representative the only person who can speak for me, or can other persons participate in making medical decisions? Your health care representative is the only person with the legal authority to make decisions about your health care even if others disagree. However, it is a good idea for your health care representative to consult with family members in making decisions.

Our office has been preparing living wills for our clients for over 20 years. Call us if you need to discuss either preparing a new living will or if you need to update your existing living will.

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