Living Wills

New Orleans Living Wills Attorney

Creating a Living Will

Most U.S. adults do not have a living will in place — a legal document, also known as a directive in Louisiana — that instructs others as to your medical preferences and desires should you become incapacitated and no longer able to provide express informed consent. A living will may inform medical providers and emergency personnel of whether you wish to be revived or what measures, if any, you wish to be used to save your life in the event that you become incapacitated.

When do I need a living will?

Ideally, every adult with legal capacity to execute a living will should have one in place. Although most of us are caught up in our busy lives and do not spend time imagining the various scenarios that could cause medical professionals or our loved ones to have to guess at what our medical wishes would be, the truth is that any one of us could require such a document at any given time. If you have been diagnosed with a serious or terminal condition or require a high-risk surgery, you might be considering a living will for the first time.

This important document will not only ensure that your wishes are carried out, but it can also remove significant stress from your loved ones, who may otherwise have to deliberate and agonize over the best course of action with your medical treatment and try to guess what your wishes would have been in those circumstances.

What should I include in my living will?

In your living will, you can describe what types of treatment you do not want to receive, if you become incapacitated. These may include:

  • CPR
  • Life-support devices like ventilator and respirators
  • Feeding tubes and/or IV hydration
  • Antibiotics and other medication
  • Dialysis
  • Organ and tissue donation

How do I create a living will?

In the State of Louisiana, a living will is called a declaration. Louisiana law requires that your declaration be in writing. You must sign your declaration in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the document. Each of the two witnesses must be competent adults and may not be related to you by blood or marriage or be entitled to any portion of your estate.

Do I need a lawyer to help me?

While it is possible to create a living will on your own, working with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney will help to ensure that you have properly executed a valid directive under Louisiana law and have considered all of the different circumstances and choices you may want to include in your directive. With the guidance of an attorney, you can make sure that your desires are clearly expressed, which will help you to avoid disputes in the future.

Can I make changes to my living will in Louisiana?

Regardless of your mental condition, you may revoke your declaration or living will at any time. You can revoke your declaration by orally expressing your intent to revoke it, signing and dating a written revocation, or burning, tearing, or otherwise destroying the document. Directing another person to destroy the document in your presence will also constitute revocation.

What should I do with my living will?

Once you have properly executed a living will, you should make copies of your directive and keep the original in a safe. Give copies of your directive to your physician and/or health care agent — the individual you have given power of attorney to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. It is also wise to keep a card in your purse or wallet indicating that you have a medical directive and bring a copy of your directive with you when you travel.

Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

At Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, our skilled and experienced team of estate planning lawyers have helped countless clients create and properly execute comprehensive living wills that leave those clients with the peace of mind that, should they become incapacitated, decisions will be made according to their medical wishes and their loved ones will not be burdened by the stress and guilt of guessing what choices the client would make if they could give informed consent.

Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what tomorrow has in store for us. So many variables are outside of our control — but there are some things we do have control over. When we plan for the worst, we can help mitigate some negative elements of a tragedy, serious injury, or end-of-life care.

For a complimentary consultation with one of our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys, contact us today at (504) 523-6496.

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