Living Wills And The Terry Schiavo Case

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The story about Terry Schiavo and the court battles that her family and husband had to endure spread all over the country. Its exposure on the news had opened people’s minds about living wills and how these documents could save them from a great deal of suffering and difficulties. On top of that, it changed the perceptions of Americans about death in general.

If the patient – Terry Schiavo – had drawn up a living will prior to her ill-fated collapse that led to severe brain damage, the expensive and highly publicized court hearings would have been avoided.

The painful question of whether to continue the provision of life-sustaining measures, in the form of tube feeding, should have been immediately answered by none other than Terry herself.

When a judge reached a decision to remove the feeding tube, the patient’s husband – Michael Schiavo – made it a point to publicly endorse the importance of making a living will. This written, legally binding document would have saved him and his wife’s family from all the trouble and painful struggles of deciding for the patient – based on their individual points of view about the situation.

After the case had closed, numerous Americans began to accept the harsh and inevitable reality of illness to the point of powerlessness – and consequently death. For this reason, more and more eligible folks had decided to draw up their own living wills and put their health care preferences down on paper. Basically, people had become more informed with regard to the issue and what they can do to avoid falling into the same difficult spot.

What is a living all about?

If you’re still not well-versed about how living wills work, then you better expand your knowledge about these legal documents as early as possible.

In essence, it is a form of advanced directive that is written down on paper for the health care team to follow once the creator becomes too sick or incapacitated to communicate his or her decisions about treatment. In this way, the attending physicians and the immediate family would know whether the patient would like to receive “heroic measures” or to discontinue all types of life-support measures completely.

A living will may be viewed as a legal expression of your desires with regard to medical treatment. You may also appoint someone to be in-charge of deciding on your behalf in case the need arises. That person is usually called a “health care surrogate” or a “patient advocate”.

When talking about living wills, the question of timing usually comes up. People normally want to know when it would be best to make a living will. The answer is pretty simple. Since state laws govern the making of living wills, the policies in one state may differ in another. Nevertheless, the standard rules involve the following qualifications: legal age and sound mind.

In most states in the U.S., the legal age is 18 years old and above. Then again, some states have set the benchmark a year older – at 19 years old, so be sure to determine these technicalities before deciding to write your own living will. Aside from the age, certain measures must be done as well.

In order for the living wills to be valid, the appropriate form must be filled out and the procedure must conform to the laws of the particular state you live in.

Some states necessitate the attendance of two qualified witnesses during the signing of the living will. The law may also require the presence of a Notary Public, together with the two onlookers.

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