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Redefining Wording in Living Will Clears Up Confusion

Determining whether or not to use heroic methods to prolong the life of a dying person isn’t something anyone wants to think about. However, a living will – the document that states these important issues – is something everyone should include as part of their estate planning process. Readers in Worcester may be interested to learn that lawmakers in a neighboring state have clarified the language on the document hospitals and medical professionals use to determine a patient’s wishes regarding end-of-life treatment.

New Hampshire has redesigned their living will form so that hydration and nutrition are included under heroic efforts. Prior to the change, a patient who filled out the form that did not want any heroic efforts, including a feeding tube, might inadvertently agree to a feeding tube. This is because the consent to withhold nutrition and hydration was a different part of the form – separate from other heroic means, such as life support and resuscitation efforts.

A living will is an important document because it ensures a person’s final medical wishes are carried out. As part of the living will, a person is chosen to make sure the document is followed. The chosen person should be informed of his or her responsibilities prior to naming them in the document, as well as what wishes are laid out in the document. The designated person is usually a family member or close friend.

No one wants to think of their demise, but it is something everyone should consider and plan for, if for no other reason than to spare worried and mourning family members from having to make the agonizing decision themselves. For those who need assistance in creating this document, a legal professional can help anyone who wants to get his or her final affairs in order.

Source:  Valley News, “Living Wills Made Clearer In N.H. Law” Norma Love, Dec. 30, 2013

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