Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | May 1, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says Kentucky Statutes have Living Will Provisions.

A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments.  A living will may also be referred to as an advance directive, health care directive, or a physician’s directive.

A living will is a legal document that informs your health care providers and your family about your desires for medical treatment in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.  Thus, a Living Will provides your written directions on your life and shows your decisions on how to proceed with medical care when you are unconscious or too ill to communicate your wishes.

A Living Will memorializes your decisions and makes them clearly known to your health care providers and family members.  It is a powerful and important legal document.

The Kentucky Living Will Directive Act of 1994 was passed to ensure that Kentuckians have a way to express their right to make decisions regarding their own medical care, including the right to accept or refuse treatment. This right to decide about medical care applies to treatments that extend life, like a breathing machine or a feeding tube.  For example, do you want to be kept alive on a respirator or a feeding tube while in a hospital.  The General Assembly of Kentucky has given each Kentuckian the power and right to decide these types of moral issues without the interference of Church or State.

Kentucky law (KRS 311.625) specifies the form that you should fill out.  The Living Will form includes two sections. The first section is the Health Care Surrogate section which allows you to designate one or more persons, such as a family member or close friend, to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to decide for yourself.

The second section is the Living Will section in which you may make your wishes known regarding life-prolonging treatment so your Health Care Surrogate or Doctor will know what you want them to do. You can also decide whether to donate any of your organs in the event of your death.

In Kentucky a Living Will allows you to leave instructions in four critical areas. You can:

  • Designate a Health Care Surrogate
  • Refuse or request life prolonging treatment
  • Refuse or request artificial feeding or hydration (tube feeding)
  • Express your wishes regarding organ donation

You should consult or retain an attorney, if you want to make changes to the standard Living Will form found in the statute book, or if you have any questions about this important document.

A living will is of little help and no legal effect, if no one knows that you have one.  A copy of any Living Will should be put in your medical records. Each time you are admitted for an overnight stay in a hospital or nursing home, you will be asked whether you have a Living Will. You are responsible for telling your hospital or nursing home that you have a Living Will.

 Please talk to your family, doctor and the person you designate as your health care proxy about your intentions.

 The decision to make a Living Will should be your sole and independent personal decision and should be made only after serious thought and consideration.

Here are some other Kentucky Statutes on related topics for your reading and review.

 KRS 311.623 — Living Will Directive

KRS 311.629 — Powers of Health Care Surrogate

KRS 311.631 — Responsible Parties Authorized to Make Health Care Decisions (if you have not designated a Health Care Surrogate)


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