Have you created your Living Will?
Have you created your Living Will?
Let your wishes for your medical care live on through your Living Will
Planning for death can be like making that dreaded dentist’s appointment: you don’t want to do it, but you must, because you know it will save much pain going forward!
A Living Will guides your family and doctors in honouring your wishes for a dignified death when you are no longer able to express those wishes. It affords your family peace of mind during an extremely difficult time.
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a written statement detailing a person’s wishes regarding their future medical treatment, when they are unable to give their informed consent regarding such treatment.
A Living Will often stipulates that you not be kept alive through artificial life support should you have no reasonable chance of recovery from a general condition or vegetative state. An Advance Directive deals with the medical treatment a person would like (or not like) administered to them concerning a specific medical condition or ailment. So, the Living Will and Advance Directive deal with your end-of-life wishes while you are still alive. Don’t incorporate your Living Will into your Last Will and Testament – it is a separate document serving a different purpose.
Legal position in South Africa
In South Africa, all patients have a right to refuse treatment, but may not ask or expect a doctor to end their life. Doctors have taken an oath to save lives, so cannot be forced to abide by a Living Will where they feel that there is hope of recovery for a patient.
The Living Will is not a binding legal document; rather it communicates your wishes to guide your family when they have to take decisions about your medical treatment in the final stages of your life.
Why do I need one?
Despite medical advances extending life, the natural decline of health at life-end means you may find yourself with an irreversible medical condition severely restricting your quality of life. Many people do not want, for example, to be on permanent life support or in a permanent vegetative state. Then, a medical professional may look to your family for guidance. Here, a Living Will or Advance Directive, while not legally binding, can save your family from enormous emotional stress and even financial burden.
Your Living Will can also record your wishes about organ donation and cremation or burial.
What must your medical professional check?
1. The signatory to the Living Will or Advance Directive was over 18 years.
2.The patient had the mental capacity to make their own decisions when they signed their Living Will.
3. The patient was fully informed about their condition and proposed treatment.
4. The patient did not change their mind after signing the document.
How to get a Living Will in place
There are many standard Living Wills that can be downloaded from the internet and completed according to your wishes.
At Chartered Legacy & Trust, we can prepare your Living Will at no additional cost when we draft your Will. Speak to your RetiremeantTM Specialist today about getting your Last Will and Testament and Living Will updated or in place if not already done!
Once complete, you can send copies of your Living Will to your family and doctors, so that they are immediately aware of your wishes. Your treating doctor must have access to your Living Will in order to carry out its directives.
Dealing with death is never easy, but having your affairs in order through your Last Will and Testament and Living Will can ensure you receive dignified and humane medical treatment according to your wishes while facilitating a smooth transition for your family.