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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Addictions Hospice Care, Living Wills & Advance Directives

also see in the Legal Blog

Making out a living will
How to Create
a Living Will

Technological advances in medicine have helped extend people's lives far beyond what was unthinkable only half a century ago. Today, topics like living wills, or advance directives, are fast becoming the subject of discussions everywhere from professional symposiums to the family dinner table.

What is a living will? In effect, it is a legal document that a person signs to direct their own end-of-life care. A living will, or "advance directive", provides for specific instructions about the kind of treatment they might receive before they get sick, especially if an individual is found to be suffering from an incurable condition or terminal disease.

Not only does the living will guide physicians (who often feel they are ethically bound to to prolong life at any cost), but it also eases the burden on family members and next of kin for making any final decisions on the individual's behalf.

Illinois attorney Louis Kutner was the first in 1969 to propose a legally binding document that gave people more control over end-of-life treatment dubbed "the living will". By 2005, controversial cases like the one surrounding Terri Schiavo in the U.S. led to increased awareness of quality of life issues and end of life care as never before.

By 2007, 41% of Americans had a living will.

Two years later, Barack Obama became the first United States President to announce that he had arranged for a living will for both he and his wife, Michelle, and encouraged all Americans to follow his example, saying "we hope we don't have to use it for a long time, but I think it's something that is sensible."

The announcement followed heated controversy over new health health care legislation that included proposed Medicare payments that would help counsel patients regarding living wills and advance directives.

To date, there is no federal law governing the wording of advance directives, but all US states have forms and instructions on how to create a living will variously called "advance directive," "living will" or "health care proxy" forms (see below.)

also see -> Wills & Estates | Elder Law | Euthanasia

More about living wills and advance directives around the Web:

Find out more at top sites that address the subject with news stories, facts, and more information on how living wills help people control their own care and have their personal wishes carried out right up until the end of life ....

Living Wills by U.S. State: New Jersey South Dakota
Alabama Georgia Maryland New Mexico Tennessee
Alaska Hawaii Massachusetts New York Texas
Arizona Idaho Michigan North Carolina Utah
Arkansas Illinois Minnesota North Dakota Vermont
California Indiana Mississippi Ohio Virginia
Colorado Iowa Missouri Oklahoma
Connecticut Kansas Montana Oregon West Virginia
Delaware Kentucky Nebraska Pennsylvania Wisconsin
Florida Louisiana Nevada Rhode Island Wyoming
  Maine New Hampshire South Carolina  

Advance Directives and Do Not Resuscitate Orders
- Get a good, clear overview of how to write an advance directive in the event of permanent unconsciousness or terminal illness, what to discuss with your doctors and family beforehand, related discussions on living wills and power of attorney.

Consumer's Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning - Find comprehensive information from the American Bar Association presenting the hard facts and considerations with helpful Q&A worksheets, a guide to initiating a potentially difficult conversation with family members, advice for caretakers and health care proxies, and related resources.

Preparing an Advance Directive - Use the dropdown menu for forms and instructions on how to file advance directives in all 50 US states.

MedlinePlus: Hospice Care - Here's an excellent source of updated news, information, and links to resources and feature articles on living wills, advance directives, and hospice care.


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