Do I Need a Living Will if I am Single?
In one word-yes. Yes. YES.
The American medical system is largely elective. In this country adults have the legal right to pursue or abandon medical treatment offered by their physician. Your ability to choose your treatment based on the risks, benefits, alternatives and other available information is known as informed consent and unlike many other forms of legislation is recognized in every state. Informed consent is a practice upheld as long as humanly possible, unfortunately there may come a time when you are unable to make an informed decision for yourself regarding your medical care and that is when a living will is used.
- A living will is a legal document outlining a person’s wishes regarding any life prolonging treatments or procedures should that person suffer from a terminal illness or fall into a permanent vegetative state.
- Living wills spell out the medical treatments and measures you do and don’t want.
- They allow you to maintain control of what happens to you when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.
- The document states what life-sustaining measures can and cannot be used in your care including; nutrition and hydration assistance, use of mechanical breathing, dialysis, surgery, blood transfusion and resuscitation.
The majority of people do not have a living will!
By drafting a living will, you take the burden of making some of the toughest decisions off of the people in your life. If you fail to draft a living will, leaving concrete instructions about what you want for yourself, someone else (often called a surrogate) will be responsible for life and death decisions for you. Traditionally a spouse is the first choice for a surrogate, for a single person this is clearly not the case and can create a myriad of issues. Firstly, this person may have absolutely no idea what it is you do and do want. The surrogate who does not know about your convictions around life-support or any other treatment option and will be act based on their own logic and belief system. By formalizing your wants, you take away that chance of losing control over your fate.
It is a nightmare for a parent to survive their child. Now, imagine the burden of asking your parents to make a decision regarding life-saving measures while in a state of shock and grief over the prospect of losing their child. Whether you have communicated your wishes or not, your family members (or friends) have no legal obligation to uphold your requests without a living will.
The Law Office of Lynda L. Hinkle can help you prepare for the future. We offer free consultations and have locations in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties, and are happy to discuss your matter either by phone or at our Marlton or Turnersville/Blackwood law offices. Please reach out to us at 856-227-7888 0r [email protected] to discuss your legal options.