A living will or advance care directive is a powerful part of any estate plan. When properly drafted and enacted, such a document provides medical providers such as doctors, nurses, and specialists called upon to provide care to you guidance as to the type of care you desire when you cannot make your wishes known. These documents can be especially helpful for those whose religious or philosophical beliefs prevent them from accepting certain treatments (such as blood transfusions).
The Coronavirus Pandemic May Make Advance Directives Even More Important
The present coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the need for all adults to consider creating or modifying their living wills. As the news across the country has reported, individuals who are struck hard by the COVID-19 virus may need intensive – and invasive – treatment to survive. Furthermore, they may face a long road to recovery. For example, many patients who experience severe complications from COVID-19 may need to be placed on a ventilator. However, some individuals may not wish to be placed on a ventilator because:
- The intubation process may lead to infection or sinus problems
- Artificial ventilation may cause lung damage on top of any damage caused by COVID-19
- There are other risks and potential harm that may befall someone placed on a ventilator such as damage to the person’s vocal chords
Ohioans, especially those with an elevated risk of infection with and complications from COVID-19, may wish to give thought to the sort of treatment they would like to receive in the event they become infected with the novel coronavirus.
What Happens When There is No Living Will?
A living will or advance care directive only has force and effect if the creator of the document is unconscious or otherwise incapable of making their wishes known to medical staff and is in a terminal or permanently-incapacitated condition. A living will would not become effective just because, for instance, the creator of the living will contracts COVID-19. It is only if that person slips into a coma, becomes permanently delirious, or is otherwise unable to communicate their wishes clearly to medical staff that the living will would come into play. The living will would instruct medical staff as to what life-sustaining the person would not want to receive and whether the person would like to be resuscitated.
In the absence of any living will, medical staff may provide treatments that artificially prolong a person’s life, even if there is little chance of recovery for the individual. If a patient has designated someone as their health care power of attorney, that person may be consulted to determine what course of treatment to pursue.
It is Easy to Create or Change a Living Will With an Attorney’s Help
The process of crafting a living will or advance healthcare directive in Ohio is not complicated. Similarly, changing the terms of an existing living will or directive is simple. Ohio law permits an adult of sound mind to create or change a living will at any time and for any reason. If the person already has a living will and is seeking to update the terms of the document, often it is simplest for a new document with the updated terms to be crafted.
Let the experienced and dedicated staff of Dawes Legal, LLC assist in answering your estate planning and living will questions. Set up a consultation with us and allow our attorneys to speak with you about how a living will, advance healthcare directive, will, or trust may all help provide you and your loved ones with stability and certainty. Reach out to Dawes Legal, LLC by calling (614) 733-9999 today.