Your Living Will – Looking at Ventilator Options in Light of COVID-19

June 12, 2020

An advance directive is a set of instructions someone prepares prior to illness that sets out healthcare wishes. A living will, a type of advance directive, is a legal document that instructs your health care providers on the types of treatment you want or do not want should you become incapacitated. A living will is one type of advance directive that becomes effective when a person is terminally ill. A DNR order, another type of advance directive, is similar. DNR stands for "do not resuscitate" and it instructs your medical provider not to take life-saving measures, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Another type of advance directive, a medical power of attorney, transfers these decisions to someone else that you trust and designate to make these types of decisions for you if you are not able to make them for yourself. Because a living will is just one kind of advance directive, you're not limited to using only this document. You can write a living will, create a medical POA and draft a DNR order as well.

If you are unable to communicate your wishes, these types of advance directives provide instructions regarding different types of life-sustaining measures such as the use of feeding tubes and/or ventilators. Many people may have selected no ventilator in years past and in light of COVID-19 may want to reconsider and revise their living wills. With this particular virus, the ventilators provide the necessary oxygen to sustain patients until the immune system rids the body of the virus and the lungs function on their own.

Making these types of decisions can be very challenging. It helps to discuss your options with an experienced estate planning attorney who can provide insight into various situations so you can make the most informed choices. Contact the compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys at Stouffer Legal for a consultation at 443-470-3599.

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