You may use advance directives to tell your doctors and your family what medical treatment you do or do not want if you should become unable to make these decisions yourself. A living will is your statement that you do not want to be kept alive by artificial means if you are terminally and incurably ill, or if you are in a persistent vegetative state. You may use a health care power of attorney to name a health care agent who will make your medical decisions when you are unable to do so.
Many people, as well as some medical providers, do not fully understand advance directives. How much do you know? Take the quiz below and find out. Compare your answers with the responses given for residents of Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Check for your states' laws regarding Advance Directives for Health Care.
1. After a patient is connected to life support systems, it is legally difficult to withdraw him or her from the life support systems.
2. Without a living will, the doctors and hospital must put and keep a terminally and incurably ill patient on life support systems, regardless of the cost.
3. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) must be given a copy of your living will if they are called to resuscitate you.
4. If you have a living will, you should also have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.
5. You revoke your living will by tearing it up.
6. Your health care agent has the right to make all health care decisions on your behalf under a Health Care Power of Attorney and can make decisions over your objections.
7. More often than not, it is one or more family members who prevent a patient’s living will from being honored by the doctor and medical provider.
8. A living will from another state is not valid in this state.
9. A hospital or nursing home can insist that someone being admitted must sign a living will.
10. The law is more concerned about protecting doctors than it is about honoring a patient’s wishes.
11. The Power of Attorney for health care must always be a family member if one is available.
12. The Power of Attorney for health care may be shared by more than one family member.
13. An attorney must be used to draw up a legal living will.
Adapted for use in the Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare program.
Quiz developed by:
Carol A. Schwab, J.D., LL.M.,
Former Professor and Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University.
This document is for non-profit educational purposes only. This document may not be used by a profit-making company or organization. When used by a non-profit organization, appropriate credit must be given to the Cooperative Extension Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare education program. Materials for this program were developed by a team from six land-grant universities. The program is included in the program toolkit of the Cooperative Extension Financial Security in Later Life national initiative. For more information go to: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fsll.