What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a legal written statement that outlines an individual's wishes regarding their future medical treatment. It comes into effect while they are still alive but not in the condition to make decisions or communicate their consent anymore. It specifies the kinds of treatments one might or might not want to be used to keep them alive. This could include life-sustaining measures such as resuscitation, artificial ventilation, and feeding tubes among several others.
Is it the same as an Advance Directive?
Living Will is just one of the types of Advance Directive. An Advance Directive is a broader legal term that can be any document that specifies details of your future medical care. It can be of several types like Power of Attorney, Health Care Instructions, or Living Will.
Is it legal in India?
On 9 March 2018, the Supreme court recognized the ‘Right to die’ as a fundamental right by allowing Living Wills.
In 2023, the High Court passed a landmark ruling on the legality and enforceability of Living Wills. The ruling recognized the importance of individual autonomy and decision-making in medical contexts. It established clear guidelines for the creation and use of living wills.
Last Will v/s Living Will
The last will is a legal document that comes into effect after your death. It specifies how you wish to distribute your property and assets after your death.
Though the purpose of both is to ensure that your affairs are managed as per your preferences, they are fundamentally different when it comes to their context.
Why do you need a Living Will?
A Living Will protects your autonomy as an individual when it comes to decision-making in the context of healthcare. It enables you to allow certain medical treatments and deny the ones you do not wish to receive. This becomes applicable in a scenario where you can’t communicate your preferences because of a medical condition.
Besides, it also takes the pressure off the shoulders of your caretakers. They would not have to make any drastic decisions on your behalf. While that decision could be out of love or lack of finances, in the absence of the will, they might end up regretting it for the rest of their lives.
What can go wrong with a Living Will?
Living Wills come with a risk of ending up being poorly drafted documents. It is because a layman cannot possibly imagine all possible medical or emotional scenarios. These legal documents are way more than statements of removing life support when the situation arises. Those scenarios are hard to imagine for anyone. Considering the emotional aspect of these highly sensitive issues, there are a lot of ‘if’s’ and ‘then’s’ possible. Hence, the need for a professional arises.
From providing a comprehensive plan, and a crystal clear direction, to advising on the matter from a legal point of view. A professional’s involvement can ensure that the will is utilised by the right members of the family. Appointing a health care proxy beforehand or advising on future possibilities, is recommended to get the will done under a legal expert’s guidance.
How can we help you?
We at Dr Sunil Khattri & Associates are a team of highly experienced medico-legal experts who value ethics and empathy in equal measures. A service like Living Will must be handled with a lot of sensitivity, patience, and clarity. Unlike young teams of advocates, our Managing Partner, Dr Sunil Khattri comes with an overall experience of over 44 years. We understand this world inside out and will do everything in our power to take you through this difficult decision with ease.
We understand that the decision of getting a Living Will prepared is not an easy one. You don't have to decide right away too. But if you still want to understand the law deeper or hear the detailed process or possible problems behind it, our experts are just an email away.
Drop an email at email@example.com & let's talk. But only when you are ready, no rush. We’ll be right here for you.
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