A living will is probably the most misnamed legal document.It has nothing to do with “living” and it’s not a “will”.
To put it bluntly, it is a directive to be allowed to die. A person that signs a living will is declaring that they be allowed to die if certain facts are present. In Louisiana, euthanasia is illegal. Certain elements have to all be met before a living will becomes effective. The required elements are as follows:
- The person must have an incurable injury, disease or illness
- This injury, disease or illness must be certified to be a terminal and irreversible condition by two (2) physicians (one of whom is the treating physician of that person) who have personally examined the person
- The physicians must determine that my death will occur whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized; and
- The application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to prolong the dying process artificially
If all of these elements are met, the person may direct that all life-sustaining procedures be withheld or withdrawn. The person can also express a directive as to whether to allow food and water to be administered invasively if all the above elements are met.
The most common example of where all these required elements are met is if a person is in an incurable coma and whose life is being artificially prolonged by the use of a respirator.
A person interested in executing a living will, powers of attorney and a will, should consult an experienced estate planning attorney.