The decision on whether to remove life support
from such a person is down to that personís next of kin.
Clearly, this places a dreadful burden on the next of kin, and it
is not a decision with which most people would want to be faced.
In some cases, the accident victim and the next of kin may
have previously discussed such a scenario, and the next of kin
knows what the accident victim would prefer. However, even in
these cases, there may be family disputes about what should happen
if the victim has not spoken to other family members about his or
her wishes. This can lead to a lot of distress for all the people
concerned. None of these difficulties would arise if the accident
victim had made a living will,
as his or her wishes would take priority.
Who should make a living
Every person who is legally deemed an adult should really
consider making a living will.
It is hard for most of us to contemplate our deaths, but the
unfortunate reality is that we all have to die at some stage.
While most of us can expect to live for many decades, there is
always the chance that we may suffer some catastrophic illness or
disaster that could leave us totally incapacitated, so we should
not consider that living wills
are only for older people. There is a certain comfort to be
derived from knowing that, should the worst happen, our families
and medical staff will follow our wishes. We can also take comfort
from knowing that we will not leave our loved ones in a situation
of having to make very difficult decisions.
If you want to make a living
will, you can talk to a lawyer. Most lawyers who handle
standard wills can also help you make a living
will. You can also find free
living will forms
online. All you have to do is download and complete them, stating
your preferences. You will be able to state in detail what
treatments you will accept, and what ones you want to decline
should you be incapacitated. You may, for example, want to decline
feeding by tube, but want to accept artificial respiration
can also use a living will
to donate your organs. Most people would be happy to know that their
organs could be used to extend or improve other peopleís lives, yet
there is a worldwide shortage of organ donors. If more people made living
wills, then it is almost certain the shortage of organs would be
Are living wills
wills are widely recognized, but each country, state, or province
may have its own interpretations and rules. A living
will is invalid if the person making it was not fully cognitive
at the time the will was made. For example, a living
will made by a person in an advanced stage of Alzheimerís
disease might be considered invalid. There may also be other
requirements, like having the living
will signed by a witnesses or public notaries, and having it
registered at a recognized repository.
any other legal documents, living
wills can be challenged in courts, although this is extremely
rare. It should be noted that living
wills do not come into effect until the person becomes completely
unable to communicate because of unconsciousness or coma. Likewise, a living
will does not come into effect unless the person has no
possibility of recovery. This means that if there is a chance of
recovery, for example following a heart attack, the living
will normally has no bearing on treatment. Usually, it will be
necessary for one or more doctors to certify that the patient is
terminally ill or in a permanent coma before the living
will comes into effect.
Letting people know about your living
always a good idea to let your family know that you have made a living
will, and to tell them where the will is. If nobody knows that
you have made a living will,
then it cannot be used to decide on your medical treatment.
Whether you want
to discuss your proposals with them before making your living
will, is a personal decision. Some people find it helpful to
discuss their plans in advance, believing that it helps their families
to understand fully why they are choosing particular options. This can
make it much easier for the family to deal with issues if the living
will ever comes into effect.
Making a living
will using one of many free living
will forms is easy to do and delivers two primary
benefits. Firstly, it puts you in total control over how you will be
treated in an end of life situation. Secondly, it avoids the potential
distress your loved ones could face if they have to make critical
decisions on your behalf.