What is a Living Will?
In North Carolina, a living will is a legal document that lets others know your personal choices about your end-of-life medical treatment. It states which procedures or medications you would want, or not want, to extend your life if you cannot communicate with the doctors yourself.
A living will goes into effect if you cannot communicate your decisions. For example, you may be unable to speak due to anesthesia or due to a complication or you may be unconscious from an accident. By outlining your wishes before something happens, you can also relieve family or loved ones from having to make impossible decisions about what you may have wanted.
With that in mind, the attorneys at Fisher Stark P.A. are currently offering free living wills to essential workers in order to give back to those who are putting themselves at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fisher Stark P.A. is client-focused law firm close to downtown Asheville.
If you have ever wondered about having a living will, this article will help you understand what a living will is and why you may want to consider having one.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive in North Carolina is the legal name for a living will. It is a document that communicates your end-of-life wishes when you are not able to communicate them yourself. An advanced directive can be accompanied by various other documents such as a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, information on if you are an organ donor and a medical power of attorney.
How is a living will different from a last will and testament?
Your last will and testament explains how you want your property and other possessions to be handled after you die and may also determine certain family responsibilities, such as who would take custody of your minor children.
On the other hand, a living will’s purpose is to step in when you are still alive but unable to communicate. A living will/advance directive is not a last will and testament. The two documents are different.
What is a Medical Power of Attorney?
A medical power of attorney is a document by which you elect and authorize someone to make your medical decisions for you if you cannot communicate them yourself.
This means that instead of having your wishes on a living will, you will have a person you trust make the decisions for you. You will need to make sure that the person you pick as your power of attorney knows how you feel about important medical decisions.
Doctors will look to the living will first as it officially states your wishes and attempt to determine if your living will override the decisions made by your health care agent/attorney in fact pursuant to a power of attorney.
However, a power of attorney is more flexible than a living will and can also help with situations where your intentions are not clear in your living will. For a true understanding, you should consult with a qualified attorney who can guide you through the various options and the documents that can affect your wishes.
What should I include in my Living Will?
Some questions you should answer while you consider signing your living will are:
- What types of medication or procedures are you not comfortable with?
- Do you want a Do Not Resuscitate or a Do Not Intubate order?
- What should be done if you can no longer breathe on your own?
- Do you want feeding tubes if you cannot feed yourself?
- Do you want artificial hydration?
- Are you an organ donor?
Your answers to these questions could determine if you need additional documentation in addition to a living will.
Remember the main benefit is a living will can give you and those you love peace of mind should end of life decisions need to be made.
If you are a COVID 19 essential worker, we invite you visit our “Create Your Own Living Will” page today to request a free living will form.
On the download page you will find written instructions about living wills and a YouTube video explaining the process by Perry Fisher, a senior attorney at Fisher Stark, P.A. .
Community is important to all of us.
Thank you, the front-line workers for being part of our community. Our attorneys care about our clients and hope that the free living wills for Covid-19 essential workers can offer you some peace of mind.
If you have any questions you can contact Fisher Stark P.A. and set up a free consultation, by phone or video: call us today at 828-505-4300.
Fisher Stark, P.A. is a highly respected personal injury law firm in Asheville, NC. We provide experienced legal help for clients in Buncombe County and all of Western North Carolina. Collectively, our team of attorneys – Perry Fisher, Brad Stark and Megan Silver – have more than 50 years of trial practice, and have participated in more than 1,000 personal injury and accident cases. Call Fisher Stark, P.A. at 828-505-4300 for a free consultation. We will work hard to get you the justice & fair compensation you deserve.