Living Wills Specify Healthcare Wishes

Are you aware of these lesser-known facts?

Often, there is apprehension concerning end-of-life decisions. To make it easier, there are legal documents that you can put in place to carry out your wishes. One is a Living Will, which is an advance directive that sets forth your instructions for life-sustaining medical procedures if you are unable to communicate your wishes to your family and healthcare provider. Below are some lesser-known facts concerning a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOAHC) in Idaho.

  • A Living Will directs your family and healthcare providers on whether to continue or withhold life-sustaining treatments such as intubation, mechanical ventilation, or tube feeding for hydration and nutrition.
  • A Living Will takes effect only when a medical doctor certifies that you have a terminal and incurable illness, or you are in a persistent vegetative state.
  • In Idaho, the Living Will and DPOAHC are combined into one document.
  • A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint a person to make all decisions regarding your healthcare and takes effect only when you are not able to communicate.
  • If you can communicate, you will continue to make your own decisions concerning your healthcare, and what treatments you want. This includes making decisions about where you live—at home or in a facility.
  • There is a presumption in favor of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you do not have a pulse and are not breathing. This is a different condition than being diagnosed as terminally ill. If you do not want CPR you should indicate it in your Living Will and should fill out a Physician’s Order for Scope of Treatment (POST) with your doctor.
  • Living Wills created in other states that substantially conform to Idaho’s Living Will statutes, are recognized as valid.
  • Persons may give consent for their care to others, in the following order: a Guardian, the person named as an Agent in their Living Will, a spouse, a parent, a relative or any other competent individual representing himself or herself to be responsible for your healthcare.
  • If you have not made a prearranged funeral plan or if provisions relating to the disposition of your remains are unclear—for example, do you want cremation or a burial—the decision is made by the person designated as your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. If you want to make provisions relating to the disposition of your remains, you may want to prepare a document which specifies what you would like to have done.
  • A Living Will can be registered with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, and if registered, your information will be available online to doctors, even if you are traveling.
  • If you change your mind, you can amend or revoke your Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

When it comes to end-of-life decisions, there are things you can do to make it feel less daunting. Getting correct information and knowing what’s available, will help you make better choices.

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

April 2019