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Living Wills FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

What Is a Living Will Declaration?

A:

Living wills are legal documents that allow you to state your wishes in the event you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill. Some details about living wills:

  • They are only effective when you are incapacitated

  • You can state whether you want life-support technology

  • It authorizes doctors to abide by your instructions on the type of medical treatment you want to receive in such scenarios

  • It can be revoked or changed at any time by you, not anyone else

  • Donations of organs or tissues can be made at the time of death if you complete a related form (Donor Registry Enrollment Form)

Q:

If My Living Will Says I Don't Want to Be Hooked up To Life-Support Equipment, Would I Still Get Pain Medication?

A:

Yes - living wills only cover care to postpone death, and does not affect medical care that can help ease the pain. An example would be receiving oxygen and pain medication, spoon-feeding, and being turned over while bedridden.

Q:

If I Become Critically Ill and Want to Be Kept Alive Using Every Available Treatment, Can I Write that In My Documents?

A:

Yes. It is important that you discuss this with an attorney so you can draft the appropriate documents to be included with your will. You should also talk to your doctor about this type of decision.

Q:

Who Determines if I Am Permanently Unconscious or Incapacitated?

A:

The examining doctors will have to agree that you are beyond medical help and unable to recover.

Q:

Do Young People Need Living Wills?

A:

Whether you are 75 years old or 25 years old, there is still the possibility of an accident that can leave you permanently unconscious. In particular, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death and severe injury for young Ohioans.

Q:

Will Doctors Notify My Family Before Stopping Life Support Treatments?

A:

Your family will most likely be informed. Although physicians may not need your family's permissions when following your will, they do make an effort to inform the persons named in your will about your decisions.

Q:

What if I Do Not Have a Living Will? Can My Healthcare Power of Attorney Make End-Of-Life Decisions for Me?

A:

Yes. If you have named an agent in a healthcare power of attorney, this individual has the power to make such decisions for you.

Q:

What Is a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

A:

This is a document that authorizes a person that you name to make health and medical-care related decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

The designated agent does not have to be a family member - it can be an adult you trust or an administrator at a healthcare facility.

The document becomes effective when you are no longer able to make decisions yourself.

Q:

Do I Need a Living Will if I Have a Healthcare Power of Attorney?

A:

Ideally you would want to have both documents because a living will only affects end-of-life situations, while a healthcare power of attorney can apply to all situations regarding medical care if you are incapacitated.

Q:

Can a Healthcare Power of Attorney Be Used to Make Financial Decisions?

A:

No, you will need a different power of attorney called "financial power of attorney."