While no one likes to think about dying, letting others know your wishes is an essential part of an effective estate plan. In Ohio an adult can control health care decisions by preparing legal documents while mentally and physically healthy, instructing others regarding certain kinds of medical treatment in the future. Two primary documents are a Living Will Declaration and a Health Care Power of Attorney.
Living Will Declaration
A Living Will Declaration instructs medical providers regarding extraordinary life-prolonging measures should you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to make decisions. Once it has been activated, a Living Will Declaration permits removal of life-sustaining medical treatment (for example, breathing machines and certain medications that prolong the dying process), but it does not limit comfort measures provided to you.
If you do not want nutrition and hydration administered by feeding tubes and intravenous methods, you can specifically note this. You can also name persons to be notified when medical authorities determine that life sustaining treatment is to be withheld or withdrawn. Special language in the Living Will Declaration also enables you to express your specific wishes concerning organ donations.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A Health Care Power of Attorney names other persons (who are not a medical providers) to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make such decisions. The Health Care Power of Attorney is effective any time you are temporarily or permanently unable to make health care decisions for yourself. In that case, the person(s) you have named will make such decisions for you. You can also provide additional instructions or limitations, in keeping with your personal wishes. As in the case of the Living Will Declaration, you can specify limitations on nutrition and hydration, if you wish.
You should give copies of your signed advance medical directives to family members, medical providers, legal representatives and others who may be contacted in the event their use becomes necessary. You should also advise those whom you have named, so that they are aware of their role and your wishes.
While you can use preprinted, standardized forms if they meet your wishes, you can prepare customized advance medical directives. You can also utilize a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment and Do Not Resuscitate forms under appropriate circumstances. The forms are readily available from most medical providers. Should you or those who may be caring for you have any questions about the use of advance medical directives, Attorney, Andrea C. Kryszak, welcomes the opportunity to be of assistance. She can be reached at 440-934-5330 or 1-888-934-5330.
This information is provided as general information only and is not intended as legal advice. Competent legal counsel should be consulted about your particular situation.