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Living Wills

Advance Health Care Directive

A living will, also referred to as an advance health care directive, is a set of written instructions that specifically outline a person's wishes for the actions they want to be taken in the event that they are no longer able to make their own decisions. Living wills are intended to work as a proactive measure that an individual can take to ensure that their wishes are carried out during times of illness, injury or any other type of incapacitation. The instructions for healthcare treatment can range from very general actions to specific measures. Typically, a living will can allow you to address the following:

  • Instructions regarding life-sustaining care in situations where you are no longer able to make your own decisions
  • Authorization for organ donations
  • Electing an agent to make these decisions on your behalf

Advance healthcare directives were intended to address the increasingly complex relationship between human life and sophisticated medical science and technology. Although some may believe these matters to be morbid, the fact remains that roughly 25% - 55% of all U.S. deaths occur in healthcare facilities. This can subject both patients and family members to prolonged grief or pain, as well as substantial financial and emotional burdens. Whatever your particular needs or wishes may be when designing your living will, they can ultimately serve as reassurance that your wishes will be fulfilled and that your loved ones will be spared difficult decisions should these events ever arise.

Creating a Living Will in Pittsburgh

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are some specific guidelines regarding the creation of and upholding of living wills. These wills are only enforceable if the person who created the will meets specific requirements, In Pennsylvania it is very important that the individuals who created the will is of sound mind when the will is drafted. If there are any questions or concerns regarding the mental stability of the person who drafted the living will, then it may be deemed invalid. In fact, you may even want to have a mental health check-up before creating the will so that you will have medical proof that you were fully aware of the decisions that you made.

To create a living will you also must be over 18. The only exceptions to this age limit are for individuals who have graduated high school or are already married. Your living will must be signed and dated by your after it is created, and two witnesses will also need to sign on the document to make it valid. You will also need to notify your physician about the living will because it will directly affect your medical care in the future if the will is needed. A living will in Pennsylvania is not considered valid during a woman's pregnancy if medical treatment will sustain the life of the fetus, but other than this the will covers almost all situations.

After you have created a living will, it won't go into effect unless you are terminally ill or otherwise incapacitated or are not able to communicate your medical wishes. You can draft the will to list specific medications you don't want to take, or specific surgeries and procedures that you would like to avoid. If you do not want to be extremely specific, you also have the right to draft your living will with broad instructions. You can even appoint a family member of friend to make medical decisions on your behalf. Most of the time, these living wills deal with some of the below issues:

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Blood Transfusions
  • Mechanical Respiration Antibiotics
  • Surgery Preferences
  • Feeding Tubes
  • Pain Management
  • Organ Donation
  • Invasive Diagnostics Testing
  • Family or Friends who can Speak on Your Behalf

Discuss Your Will with a Pittsburgh Estate Planning Lawyer

Living wills have been widely supported throughout the legal and medical communities. Taking these proactive measures now, and as part of a comprehensive estate plan, can benefit you and your loved ones immensely. With the experience you need and the compassion and reliability you deserve, you can trust in a Pittsburgh estate planning attorney to assist and support you throughout whatever it is you may need. Contact teh Frayer Law Offices to learn more about living wills, estate planning and how we can be of assistance.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.