A living will declaration is a legal document that is authorized under Indiana law to allow a competent adult (called the “declarant”) to state his or her wishes concerning the withholding or discontinuing medical care if the declarant is close to death due to an illness or injury. A living will is effective under very strict conditions: the declarant’s doctor must certify in writing: (1) that the declarant has an incurable injury, disease, or illness; (2) that the declarant's death will occur within a short period of time; and (3) that the use of life-prolonging procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process. In that event, the living will can direct that such procedures be withheld or withdrawn, and that the declarant be permitted to die naturally with only the performance or provision of any medical procedure or medication necessary to provide the declarant to make the declarant comfortable or to alleviate pain (generally referred to as “comfort care” or “palliative care”). Instead of seeking a cure or on prolonging life, comfort care focuses on quality of life and dignity by helping a person remain comfortable and free from pain (either in a hospital, a hospice, or at home) until life ends naturally.
If you want death to occur naturally -- without life-prolonging procedures that would only serve to prolong the dying process -- you can help to see that your family and medical care providers know, and carry out, your wishes by executing a living will declaration that complies with Indiana law as to both the substance of a living will and its execution and witnessing formalities. Chuck can answer questions you may have about living wills and assist you in putting in place a living will that will give you, and family members who may be faced with difficult medical care decisions, peace of mind that a living will can provide.