What is a Living Will in Arizona
If you have ever asked yourself what is a living will in Arizona, you probably have been thinking of creating an Arizona estate plan and are wondering why you need a Last Will and Testament. As advancements continue to be made in the medical field, our life expectancies are increasing. As a result, you need to know what medical care you will or will not accept for a number of medical issues. This becomes more evident as you become older, but it can also happen to young people as well as a result of an accident or serious illness occurs. If there becomes a time you are not able to express your wishes regarding your medical treatment, other people will make those decisions for you, which may not be ideal.
A Living Will is a written, legal document specifying the types of health care you wish to receive based on specified circumstances. Specifically, the Living Will is an individual statement declaring your express wishes surrounding health care should a tragedy occur.
What is in a Living Will in Arizona
A Living Will document will typically specify the following:
- Effective date of Living Will (the date you execute and sign your Living Will)
- Selection of medical circumstances (any or all of the following):
- Have a terminal condition
- Become comatose with no reasonable expectation of regaining consciousness
- Become in a persistent vegetative state with no reasonable expectation of regaining significant cognitive function
- Selection of life-sustaining procedures (one of the following):
- Nourishment and hydration
- Nourishment but not hydration
- No nourishment or hydration
- The Living Will also include language relating to any diagnosed pregnancy. Most Living Wills state should the female be diagnosed as pregnant, the Living Will shall not be in force or effect unless the fetus is not viable. The female will be required to indicate, by her initials or signature, whether or not she wishes for her Living Will to be carried out under this specific circumstance.
Some Living Wills (depending upon the language and law in your state) will include a paragraph about specific legal rights should you no longer have the ability to give directions regarding specific health care. This paragraph contains language regarding the use of life-sustaining procedures and your intention that your family and physician(s) shall honor your Living Will. Your Living Will does not become effective until you have been professionally diagnosed by a medical physician as terminally ill, comatose or in a vegetative state.
It is very important to clearly understand the unique differences between a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney (or Durable Health Care Power of Attorney). In most cases, state and federal courts will first honor the Living Will of an individual before honoring a Durable Power of Attorney, meaning your designated Agent may or may not have the authority to authorize or prolong any medical treatment not specified by you in your Living Will.
Once you have completed your Living Will, you should keep this document in a convenient location, known to your family and any other interested party. You may also file your Living Will with your local hospital. (Most hospitals require a Living Will or Advance Directive prior to any surgical procedures.) You may also consider filing your Living Will with your attorney or the U.S. Living Will Registry through one of their member health care providers or a designated community partner.
In order to execute a Living Will, you must be at least eighteen (18) years of age. The Living Will must be notarized by someone known to you, not related by blood or marriage, not your personal physician or employee of a medical facility where you may be a patient, and not financially responsible for your medical treatment.
Fortunately, there is something you can do to prevent that from occurring. Having in place an Advanced Healthcare Directive as a part of your Arizona estate plan allows you to make decisions in advance if you are unable to make those decisions in the future. Those healthcare directives must be followed by law. They will be accompanied by a medical power of attorney enabling your representative to ensure your wishes are followed.
If you do not have an Advanced Healthcare directive, your loved ones may have to go to court to obtain an order dealing with your medical care. You also are able to choose who is in charge of making sure your wishes regarding your medical care are complied with.
An Arizona Living Will is an estate planning document that details the type of medical care you will accept and what medical care you will not accept in the event you are unable to make those decisions. The Living Will should contain language describing which life-sustaining treatment you will accept, such as resuscitation, and which life-sustaining treatment you choose not to accept. It can apply to whether you are provided nutrition, choose to be connected to a machine to make you breathe and other treatments. It may also prevent you being involuntarily admitted to a mental health hospital.
In Arizona, two doctors must examine you and agree on your condition before your Living Will, in effect, direct what medical treatment you will receive pursuant to the terms of your Arizona Living Will.
Please contact our Scottsdale Arizona estate planning attorneys at (480)947-4339 for a free consultation about your Living Will and estate plan.