Living Wills in Louisiana
A “Living Will” is more properly referred to as a “Healthcare Directive” or “Advanced Healthcare Directive.” Living Wills are a critical part of your estate plan, as well as your healthcare as a whole. Absent a directive, difficult end-of-life decisions become quite contentious and sometimes litigious.
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will (a/k/a “Health Care Directive”) concerns end of life decisions and basically instructs the health care provider as to whether you wish (or do not wish) to have your life prolonged by life-sustaining treatments in the event your condition becomes terminable and irreversible (as determined by treating physicians).
Does a Living Will Need to Be Notarized in Louisiana?
A Living Will does not have to be notarized in Louisiana. However, the legal form requires that it be signed in the presence of two witnesses.
Living Will Form
A statutory Living Will Form can be found on the website of the Louisiana Secretary of State. While the statutory form is legally sufficient in a bare bones sense, we recommend a more enhanced Living Will Form that we developed to give you the ability to express more personalized preferences, like a delay to allow time for family to gather, the continuation of select procedures you may find helpful or comforting, as well as options for organ donation and other features.
In essence, there are three broad ranges of end-of-life decisions that may be contemplated by a Living Will when it becomes effective:
- Discontinue all life-sustaining procedures;
- Continue to administer some, but not all, life-sustaining procedures;
- Continue to admininister all life-sustaining procedures indefinitely.
As we say in the law, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. The more specific and tailored you can make your advanced healthcare directive, the better for all involved, especially you! Hence, our belief that the statutory form is somewhat deficient causing us to develop a more customized Living Will that more accurately reflects your preferences on end-of-life decisions.
What is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney (a/k/a Medical Power of Attorney)?
A Healthcare Power of Attorney (a/k/a Medical Power of Attorney) grants authority to someone you know and trust to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. A Living Will does not grant authority to anyone. It is a “directive” from you personally to the world establishing your preferences as to the extent to which you wish for life-sustaining procedures to be employed if you are an a terminal and irreversible condition with no meaningful hope of recovery and you would die a natural death but for life-sustaining procedures.
What is the Difference Between an Living Will and a DRN?
A Living Will is not the same as a DNR (Do Not Recussitate Order). A DNR does not take into account whether life-sustaining procedures could save your life. For example, if a person suffered a heart attack and had a DNR in place, the paramedics should not properly administer life-sustaining procedures to stabalize the condition until further medical procedures could be employed. With a heart attack victim, there may very will be a meaningful hope of recovery with proper treatment.
A Living Will does not become effective until there is no longer a meaningful hope of recovery, which means your healthcare providers have exhausted reasonable means to save your life to no avail. A Living Will would not become effective in the event of a heart attack unless and until there is no longer a meaningful hope of recovery.
Protecting Everything You Own and Everyone You Love…
Whether you just need a Living Will, or require higher level estate planning to attain more complicated goals, we provide comprehensive, experienced representation. Preparing a Living Will and planning your estate is a necessary step to protect for your family or loved ones in the event of death or incapacity. If you have questions about Living Will or Healthcare Directive in Louisiana, or any other estate planning topics, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation, or use the link below to schedule your Free 15-Minute Call with a highly experienced Estate Planning Lawyer.
J. Graves Theus, Jr. is the founding member of Theus Law Offices, and a fourth generation Louisiana lawyer with deep roots in the community. He received an LL.M. in Tax Law from Boston University School of Law in 1997, after graduating, cum laude, from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1996. Graves is licened to practice law in three states: Louisiana, Washington, and Alaska (a domestic asset protection jurisdiction). He is certified by the Louisiana State Board of Legal Specialization as a Specialist in Tax Law, as well as Estate Planning and Administration, and is an approved title agent. Graves is also accredited by the Veterans Administration to assist veterans with their pension claims.