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Why an Advance Medical Directive (Living Will) May Be Right for You

An advance health care directive, formerly referred to as a living will is a way to give you advance control over your health care decisions for circumstances when you have become unable to express yourself.

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What is a living will (AMD)?

An advance medical directive (AMD) was formerly referred to as a  living will. It was first suggested in 1969 in a law journal by Luis Kutner, an Illinois attorney. It originally drew from existing estate law at the time, whereby a person could control the distribution of his or her assets after death.

The living will brought forward the concept of an individual controlling his or her health care decisions in the case where that person can no longer indicate what they want done with their health care. It became a form or “will” used while the person was still alive and therefore a “living will”.

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What is a living will used for?

An AMD/living will details specific instructions about health care treatment to be followed by health care providers and caregivers. Sometimes it will forbid the use of certain medical treatments. It may also tell providers and caregivers about the use of food and water. It is used when the principal is incapacitated or unable to provide informed consent. The instructions in a living will can be either fairly general or very specific.

Information regarding a person’s wishes for services such as pain relief, antibiotics, hydration, feeding, resuscitation, and the use of ventilators may be included. People are more likely to complete a living will if they avoid the use of technical jargon.

Benefits of creating an AMD/living will

AMDs/Living wills arose as a result of advances in medical technology and sophisticated medical means to sustain life. There is evidence that dying in a medical facility can be unnecessarily prolonged, painful and expensive.

  • Ensure your wishes are followed in the event of an unforeseen medical emergency
  • Protect your dignity as a patient
  • Help your loved ones understand your personal wishes

If you want more information or need to speak with an attorney about a living will in Northern Virginia, contact the Law Firm of Northern Virginia Trusts and Estates for a free consultation.