A living will is a written set of directions about your health care. These directions are followed if something happens and you can’t make decisions or communicate about your health care. It makes sure that you have the right to get the medical care you want. The right to decide – to say yes or no to a treatment – is the right of every Kentuckian.
Every person has a basic right to make personal health care decisions. The best way to protect this right is to name someone you trust to make decisions for you if a time comes that you can’t do it for yourself. A living will also helps make sure that you get the health care you want, even when you can’t make decisions for yourself. You don’t have to have a living will to get healthcare, but having one makes sure that your wishes are followed if you can’t communicate them.
Yes. The time to make a living will is while you still can make your wishes known. As long as you are okay to make your own decisions about your health care, your living will isn’t used. It can only be used if you are:
A living will lets you leave instructions in 4 critical areas. You can:
Anyone who is over the age of 18 can make a living will.
No, you don’t need a lawyer to make your living will.
But, if you want to make changes to your living will, you will need to talk to a lawyer.
Yes. In Kentucky there is a specific form you use when making your living will. See the Kentucky Living Will Packet on the Kentucky Attorney General’s website.
You don’t have to use this form. You can write up your own living will. But if you don’t want to use the form, you might want to talk to a lawyer to make sure you get all the information in the document.
The living will form has 2 sections:
Your health care surrogate has the power to make important decisions about you and your treatment. Make sure you choose someone that you trust. You might also think about naming a 2nd health care surrogate in case your first choice isn’t available when needed.
Talk to the person you want to name as your health care surrogate. First, make sure they are okay with it. Then talk to them about the things you want and don’t want in health care. This helps them make the decisions you want when you can’t make medical decisions for yourself. All your wishes should be written out clearly in the living will. Give your health care surrogate a copy of the document.
It is also a good idea to share your wishes with your family and doctors.
After you fill out the form completely, you need to sign and date it. You have to sign the form in front of:
The following people CAN’T be a witness or the notary when you sign:
Once I have made my living will, what should I do with it?
Keep a copy for yourself in a safe place. Anytime you go to the hospital for an overnight stay, they ask you if you have a living will. Tell them that you do. If you take a copy with you, they can add it to your medical record.
For more information on living wills in Kentucky, or to get a copy of the living will packet, visit the Kentucky Attorney General’s website here.