A living will is a legal statement or declaration that a person can make signifying his or her desire to withhold or withdraw certain types of medical treatment under a number of circumstances. Missouri living wills also function in the same way.
Any competent resident of Missouri who is 18 years or older can draft a living will by affixing his or her signature and the exact date to the declaration. This must be done in the presence of two qualified witnesses. A witness must be at least 18 years of age and should not have nay relation to the creator of the living will. He or she should not be a beneficiary of or monetarily responsible for the health care of the creator.
The making of a living will or other forms of advance directives is highly recommended since it prepares a person for that grim possibility of incapacitation. Plus, it provides an excellent opportunity to formulate health care decisions with much thought and free of pressure.
The Limitations of Missouri Living Wills
While most folks have heard about living wills, not all are actually aware of the substantial limitations of the document as defined by the laws of Missouri. The terms “terminal condition” or “death-prolonging procedure” are utilized in the statute to indicate the circumstances to which the declaration applies.
The law defines these terms with reference to a condition wherein death is about to happen whether certain treatments are given or not. In other words, the patient is expected to pass away within a short period of time with or without resuscitation, mechanical ventilator, artificial nutrition/hydration, and/or surgical procedure.
By definition, a living will only steers clear of treatment when the prospect of death is unquestionable and the medications or procedures are ineffective in preventing or significantly postponing death. In addition, the statute forbids a living will from withdrawing or withholding artificial nutrition or hydration – which is nourishment supplied through an intravenous line or feeding tube.
The Alternatives to Missouri Living Wills
For people who want to express health care decisions that are beyond the bounds of Missouri statutes about living wills, there is a possible alternative. This option is also known as “advance directives.” The legal declaration contains a patient’s desire to withhold or withdraw certain medical treatments prior to suffering from a debilitating condition wherein the ability to communicate is not possible.
In the absence of an advance directive, once a person becomes debilitated, he or she could lose the right to self-determination. Missouri living wills are just a form advance directive, complete with its own benefits and limitations. Nevertheless, latest court cases have made it obvious that any competent person has the right to create other forms of advance directives that go beyond the restrictions of the living will law.
The alternative directives need to be convincing and clear, and may contain instructions with regard to the withdrawal or withholding of artificial nourishment or other life-sustaining measures that could keep the patient in a persistent vegetative state.
The contents of this written and legally binding document may be modified according to the creator’s preferences and needs. For instance, it can specify that certain measures may be done for a sensible timetable and then terminated if the expected outcome is not observed.
Know that the creation of advance directives follow certain similar policies as that of Missouri living wills. The documents also need to be signed and dated in the presence of two qualified witnesses in order to make them legal.