Living Wills

  1. I found a few sites that offer living wills online. Has anyone made a living will online?

    I'm facing surgery and since I'm not legally married to my same-sex spouse I'd like to finally make one. I'd rather not see a lawyer but am willing to do that.

    I can't believe after six years together we haven't got our paperwork filled out.

    Anyone done a living will? What's an easy way to do it?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   adrienurse
    I'm no legal braniac or anything, but you just do it, sign it and get an outside person to sign it as a witness, make a copy for your medical file and that's it. This may also require you to visit your lawyer and have then draft up an "indurable power of attourney (why can't I spell this morning?)" form to go with it. This is especially important for people in same sex unions to do b/c of recent legislations regarding who is and is not able to access medical info.

    Yes I did do one when I was in nursing school, and my parents (as my next of kin) have a copy of it. I had a lawyer friend look it over. Just be sure to make your definitions clear (eg. non-reversible conditions means exacly what to you). Also be clear about the procedures and interventions you DO NOT want done to you.
  4. by   montroyal
    3rdShiftGuy, you really need to talk to a lawyer. I have had several bad situations were a patients partner and a patients family have had several run ins with bad results. Laws regaurding family's rights and samesex partner rights vary from state to state. Not to sound morbid, but keep in mind, living wills and medical power of attorney only are in affect while you are alive. I had a patient who passed away, the family then demand the partner be removed from the room. The family then made all the funeral arrangements ensuring the partner was not involved. This patients partner was at his side and did most of the care for this patient. The family only showed up at the end and made it clear they did not agree with his life style or want anything to do with his partner. The staff felt helpless because state law was on the family's side and to interfer would open the hospital up to liability.
    Hopefully, your family has accepted you for who you are and will accept your decisions. If not, you need a lawyer to ensure you understand if your living will is in contradiction to state law or if it can be enforced. Good luck
  5. by   adrienurse
    Yeah, exactly what he(she?) said. I have to disagree, though about the power of attorney part -- this is in effect when you are incapacitated (under anesthesia, incompetent, or otherwise unable to make decisions for yourself), not just if your dead.

    Question, is POA and designating a proxy the same thing?
  6. by   JNJ
    3rdshiftguy:
    State laws vary on 'living wills' - snowbirds, for instance, are advised to make a living will for each state thru which they travel!

    Remember 'living will' is a misnomer - it actually only applies when you are nearly dead. Power of attorney for health care (stipulate health care as there are others, e.g. financial), as someone else posted, is a much better idea and more likely to hold in other states.

    Please, please do get your paperwork done. Like other postings, I've seen too much damage done without it. I don't have a JD degree, but my MA is biomedical ethics/philosophy.
  7. by   JNJ
    I forgot to add this to my posting above:

    Nurse's Legal Handbook, Springhouse Corp.

    Choice in Dying, Inc
    www.choices.org (not applicable here we hope, but an interesting site in case this thread starts to develop)
  8. by   renerian
    I have never done that on line but we did have an attorney draw one up plus do a power of attorney for medical and financial. I think it was only 250 but ours was complicated since we are both nurses we were very picky LOL.

    renerian
  9. by   sjoe
    You need a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, in addition to a Living Will. (My personal suggestion is that your SO not be this person, nor any of your relatives.)

    You can get these blank documents, samples, suggestions, and directions from the social work department (or a similar name) at any large hospital, or check your library for a Nolo law book which will have the forms in it, or from any large stationery store. Or visit www.nolo.com for everything you want to know.

    Complete them, make appropriate copies, have copies also placed in your medical records at every place you receive healthcare.

    Additionally, write and sign a letter to the person serving as your DPOAHC, restating EXACTLY what your wishes, are, what limits you wish too place on medical interventions, etc. Make sure this person has copies of all three of these documents.

    Make sure your relatives are aware of your wishes, the identity of your DPOAHC, and where these documents are located.

    So far as a Last Will and Testament is concerned, you will need an attorney for this. You could do one yourself, again through Nolo, but if any of your relatives chose to challenge it, there could be problems (though you would be in no position to participate in the challenge).

    Best wishes.
    Last edit by sjoe on Mar 8, '03
  10. by   Tweety
    Originally posted by sjoe
    You need a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, in addition to a Living Will. (My personal suggestion is that your SO not be this person, nor any of your relatives.)

    You can get these blank documents, samples, suggestions, and directions from the social work department (or a similar name) at any large hospital, or check your library for a Nolo law book which will have the forms in it, or from any large stationery store. Or visit www.nolo.com for everything you want to know.

    Complete them, make appropriate copies, have copies also placed in your medical records at every place you receive healthcare.

    Additionally, write and sign a letter to the person serving as your DPOAHC, restating EXACTLY what your wishes, are, what limits you wish too place on medical interventions, etc. Make sure this person has copies of all three of these documents.

    Make sure your relatives are aware of your wishes, the identity of your DPOAHC, and where these documents are located.

    So far as a Last Will and Testament is concerned, you will need an attorney for this. You could do one yourself, again through Nolo, but if any of your relatives chose to challenge it, there could be problems (though you would be in no position to participate in the challenge).

    Best wishes.

    I seriously doubt any relatives would challenge a last will and testiment, but you never know. If I suddenly die, I've got 2 times my salary coming to my s.o. Family could get greedy.

    Anyway, why would the DPOAHC not be my partner. He's a nurse and would be a great resource should I become terminal or vegetative. Is it because family and s.o.'s are too emotionally involved and would want everything done despite the living will?

    Thanks for the website. (Duh, I never thought to check out this hospitals social services dept. )
  11. by   sjoe
    "why would the DPOAHC not be my partner. He's a nurse and would be a great resource should I become terminal or vegetative. Is it because family and s.o.'s are too emotionally involved and would want everything done despite the living will?"

    It is, of course, up to you, there is no legal restriction about this (assuming the person is over 18 years of age). (And by the way, a Living Will by itself holds VERY little power, and is ignored over 50% of the time in the US. That's the reason for a DPOAHC, in addition. And for after-death issues (estate, cremation, funerals, etc.) that is what an executor is for.)

    But in addition to the reason you suggested, you might think about the possibillity that a greedy (or excessively sentimental) blood relative who wished to contest your advance directives in court could use the argument of "undue influence" to do so, as well as the same argument to challenge your Last Will and Testament (assuming your SO stands to inherit some part of your estate that this relative would prefer having for him/herself).

    These relatives seem to come out of the woodwork when either money or sexual preference/orientation is involved, in my experience.

    If your SO is aware of these possibilities and you both agree that he would be able and willing to withstand and deal with them (in other words, he goes into the agreement with eyes open), so be it. It is certainly something to consider seriously ahead of time, otherwise "the best laid plans of mice and men...."

    (Disclaimer: For myself, my DPOAHC is a nurse (NP) friend of mine with whom I do not have an intimate relationship--a friendship is more like it, so these factors above won't enter in to any future problems. And I have no financial or other involvement with Nolo Press nor its website. )
    Last edit by sjoe on Mar 9, '03
  12. by   Katnip
    I think you need to talk to your SO and see how he feels about your living will. I know a lot of children and SOs who do carry out the person's wishes. In my (granted very limited) experience, it's the family members and SOs who did not have this discussion beforehand who cause the problems.

    If you feel you can rely on your SO to make the decisions you want, then go for it and give him your Power of Attorney, and make sure your other family members know what you want as well.
  13. by   Flynurse
    Please, don't list your ex-spouse on your living will or DPOA....
    sheesh....that was a nightmare and a half!
  14. by   Tweety
    Thanks sjoe for your insight. That's exactly what I don't want to happen, greedy relatives taking what we've built together.

    I'd be at a loss to decide on a different DPOA other than him though. I'm even having trouble coming up with an alternate (which I believe you have to name an alternate in case something happens to your first POA). Unpleasant as it is it must be done. I'd had to have an anaphylactic reation to something and have my poor parents step in as my POA (they are technically and legally my only POA right now), they wouldn't know what to do, they'd just blindly follow whatever the docs say and I would rot for years.

    Thanks again.

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