Living wills, also known as advanced directives, are legal documents that allow you to specify your healthcare preferences in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself in end-of-life situations. They are an essential tool in ensuring that your wishes regarding medical treatment are respected in the final stage of your lifetime, and the attorneys at May Herr & Grosh LLP can provide you with valuable assistance.
Living wills in PA are governed by the state’s Advance Directive for Health Care Act. This act defines the requirements for creating a valid living will and outlines the legal protections afforded to individuals who create them. Contact a living will lawyer at our law firm today for assistance in creating a valid living will.
Creating a Living Will in Pennsylvania
To sign a valid living will in PA, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. You must also sign the document in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign it. The witnesses cannot be your healthcare provider or someone who stands to inherit from your estate.
Your living will should clearly state your healthcare preferences, including your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment. This document may include preferences for:
- Mechanical ventilation
- Feeding tubes
- Palliative care
It is important to be as specific as possible in your living will, as this will help ensure that your wishes are carried out as you intended. If your preferences change, you can update your living will at any time.
When Does a Living Will Become Active in PA?
Living wills in PA become active when your attending physician determines that you are unable to make decisions for yourself and that you have an end-stage medical condition, are permanently unconscious, or have a serious illness or injury that is likely to result in your death.
An end-stage medical condition is defined as an incurable and irreversible medical condition in an advanced state caused by injury, disease, or illness. This condition is such that, even with the application of medical treatment, the individual’s life expectancy is limited, and the dying process has begun.
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Examples of end-stage medical conditions may include:
- End-stage cancer
- End-stage heart or lung disease
- Extremely advanced Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia
- Final-stage kidney or liver disease
It is important to note that a living will only become active when your attending physician determines that you have an end-stage medical condition, are permanently unconscious, or have a serious illness or injury that is likely to result in your death. Until that point, you will be able to make your own healthcare decisions, and your living will will not come into effect.
For more information about when a living will becomes active and to create your own legal document, contact our living will lawyer today.
Legal Protections for Living Wills in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law provides several legal protections for individuals who create living wills. These include:
- Immunity from liability: Healthcare providers who act in good faith and in accordance with a valid living will are immune from liability for any resulting injury or death.
- Informed consent: Before providing any treatment, healthcare providers must obtain informed consent from the patient or their healthcare agent unless the patient is unable to provide consent and there is no living will in place.
- Dispute resolution: If there is a dispute regarding the interpretation or implementation of a living will, the case may be brought before a court for resolution.
Are You Ready to Plan Your Living Will in PA?
Creating a living will is an important step in ensuring that your healthcare preferences are respected in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself. By clearly stating your wishes in a legally binding document, you can help ease the burden on your loved ones during a difficult time.
If you have questions about creating a living will in PA, the experienced estate planning attorneys at May Herr & Grosh LLP can guide you through the process and help ensure that your wishes are carried out as intended. Contact our law offices today to schedule a meeting with a living will lawyer.