Health Directive: Combo Living Will & Healthcare Power of Attorney (Part 3)

Once I’ve Signed a Living Will, How Long Does it Last and Can I Change My Mind?

A living will does not expire until your destroy or revoke it.  You can always update or modify your living will.  You must modify the living will with the same formalities with which you executed or made the document.  The best way to revoke the document is to tear it up and notify your physician and others who are aware of the Health Directive that you have revoked it.

Are there any Religious Implications in a Living Will?

Living Wills are accepted among many common religious faiths within Georgia.  For example, living wills are accepted among Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Church of Christ, and many other denominations or faiths. However, we do not make any representations about your faith with regard to a living will.

Should Everyone Have a Living Will?

Yes. It is always better than you plan for potential life situations.  You may choose to allow a doctor to make choices in accordance with state law, rather than appoint a healthcare representative to make decisions. What is most important in this situation is that you rest assured that your wishes will be followed and that your family has guidance on your wishes.   It is important that we think about this, discuss this with our family, friends, advisors, and make a decision. After we have made a decision, we should communicate this decision to our doctors, family members, friends and our lawyer.

What happens if we do not execute a Health Directive or individual Living Will or Healthcare power of Attorney?

If you do not have one of these documents in place when such a situation arises, then our closest family member will be charged with the decision.  This is a very difficult situation for family members and can frequently cause serious disputes among your loved ones.  There are countless examples of families being torn apart by such situations.  Many times family members feel as though they have to involve a court.  You have the power to be proactive and to avoid such situations.

Does a Doctor Have to Honor Our Living Will?

The answer depends on your wishes within the living will.  A doctor cannot do anything illegal, unethical, or against medical regulations.  For example, doctor assisted suicide is not a legal option.  A medical physician will generally act within the law to honor your wishes as a medical patient with the understanding that he has general obligations as a physician.

Jason M. Gordon


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