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Living Will

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A Living Will (also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive or just Advance Directive) allows anyone to indicate their wishes concerning the withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining procedures if they are in a terminal condition with no hope of recovery or are permanently unconscious.

Your Living Will is only effective when you are no longer able to make and communicate your own wishes. For example, if you suffer a stroke or are in a motor vehicle accident and suffer a severe brain injury so that you are in a coma, you may not be able to communicate your wishes. A Living Will in these circumstances helps you communicate your desires about certain medical procedures.

Choosing an Agent for Your Living Will

The person that you designate as your Living Will agent should be someone you know and trust. The statutes of most states require that your agent be an adult. In addition, under most circumstances, your agent cannot be your health care provider (for example, a physician, nurse, employee, officer, director, or operator of a home health agency, hospital, nursing home, or residential care facility), unless that person is related to you.

Thus, in selecting an agent for your Living Will, you should not designate a person who is (or may become) directly involved in providing health care to you, unless that person is your spouse or a family member.If there are two people that you would like to serve as your agent, you can name one as an alternate agent.

Some states refer to the Agent as an “Attorney-in-Fact,” “Health Care Agent,” “Health Care Proxy,” “Health Care Representative,” “Patient Advocate,” “Proxy” or “Surrogate.

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