Living Wills

living willsA living will (also known in California as an Advanced Health Care Directive) is a legal document stating a person’s wishes regarding the medical care that they either desire or don’t want—in the event that they become unable to state their own wishes. A living will is binding and health care providers must follow its directions. If, however, they disagree with the treatment or care you have laid out in your living will, a health care provider can choose not to follow the instructions. In this instance, they must inform you or your health care agent of their decision so that another doctor who is willing to honor the terms of your living will can be found.

Who Can Make A Living Will:

  • Anyone 18 years of age or older who is of sound mind and able to understand what he or she is drafting. In California, your living will must be signed by two witnesses.

    What Can Be Included In A Living Will:

    • A request to withhold certain treatments.
    • A request for certain medical treatments.
    • Your wishes regarding whether you would like to accept or reject life-sustaining medical care.
    • The name of the person whom you would like to speak for you if you become incapacitated and are unable to articulate your own wishes. This person is known as your health care agent.

    • A list of treatments that you wish to have or refuse to have, including:

      • Surgery.
      • Dialysis.
      • Transfusions.
      • Diagnostic tests.
      • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
      • Use of a respirator.
      • Administration of drugs.

    For example, if a male patient being treated at the ICU of a hospital in San Jose needs a transfusion but does not want one and is unconscious and unable to articulate his wishes, no one is allowed to give him the transfusion if he has noted in his living will that he has decided to refuse this type of care. Even his wife cannot override his decision. This would still be the case even if she were to decide to have him transferred to a different hospital in a different city, such as Palo Alto. The directives in his living will must still be followed.

    A living will does not legally go into effect until the author of the will is medically determined to be terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state and can no longer convey his or her preferences regarding preferred treatment. It is important that your loved ones have a copy of your living will so that they can make sure that your wishes are carried out. Having a living will can prevent family members from arguing over your care. It also frees them from the responsibility of having to make such major decisions, all the while ensuring that you—their loved one—are getting the care that you would want.

    At Sagaria Law, P.C., we understand how important it is to make a living will that states your exact wishes and cannot be disputed in terms of its legality. The quality of your care during times of grave illness is important, and we want to work with you to ensure that your medical and care preferences are followed.


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