Utah Living Will

Utah Living Will

All states, including Utah, have provisions for some form of health care directive, allowing individuals to exert control over their lives and estates in the event they become incapable of making their own health care decisions.

During the 20th century, medical science advanced to the point where it could extend life under many circumstances that had formerly been fatal. In some cases, such as with kidney dialysis and organ transplants, the treatments could significantly extend life while allowing patients to remain alert and active in many of their normal activities. Other treatments, however, left patients in a much more limited condition, keeping the body alive, but unable to restore movement or brain activity. This condition has been called a “persistent vegetative state” — the person is alive, in the way a plant is alive, but cannot move, speak or exhibit any signs of cognitive activity. Medicine’s ability to keep the body alive without regard to brain function has led to conflicts between health care providers and families of patients in conditions such as irreversible comas. The health care providers believed it was their moral and professional obligation to keep patients alive if at all possible, whereas families of the patients typically wanted to allow their loved ones to pass on if there was no realistic chance that they could ever regain consciousness.

The case of Karen Ann Quinlan gave national attention to this conflict. Quinlan, who suffered irreversible brain damage, was sustained for eight years on a respirator until her parents secured permission from a New Jersey court to disconnect life support. After it was disconnected, however, Quinlan did not die but instead lived another 10 years sustained by a feeding tube. In 1977, the year the Quinlans took their daughter’s case to court, California passed the Natural Death Act — essentially the first living will law. Other states followed. In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a patient’s right to refuse life-sustaining treatment, including food and water, as long as that wish is expressed in a valid, written document that complies with applicable state law (Cruzan v. Director, MDH). Today, most states have living will statutes, and others allow patients to control, through an advanced health care directive, the care they’ll receive if rendered incompetent.

You Need a Living Will

A living will is a person’s statement to health care providers dictating the types of life-prolonging treatment he or she would not want to receive if confronted with a life-threatening condition making them incapable of communicating desired medical treatment. The purpose of a living will is to make important health care decisions at a time when a person is still competent to make them. It was created to spare a person who is incompetent and near death any unwanted suffering, medical treatment, and health care expenses.

To create a valid living will, a person must be a competent adult. The living will, or a third person if named in the living will, speaks for the will’s creator in the event that he or she faces a terminal condition, or is rendered unconscious, and is unlikely ever to regain consciousness. Appointing a person to make health care decisions can be useful because it allows for advocacy on the patient’s behalf, which may enable the patient and physician to get past disagreements over the meaning of language fixed in a living will. A physician who refuses to respect the will must transfer the patient to another physician or hospital that will honor the document.
Living wills exempt physicians who follow them from civil or criminal liability as long as the care directives comply with reasonable medical standards. The laws on living wills, however, do not allow civil or criminal remedies for a health care provider’s refusal to end life-sustaining treatment. It is therefore important to draft the document with care.

Whether to make a living will is a personal decision, much like becoming an organ donor. The decision requires contemplating imminent death or permanent unconsciousness, conditions it may be hard for us to imagine. Yet the impact of such a condition on our loved ones is something we may better be able to picture. The emotional and financial costs of being kept alive when there is no real chance of recovery can be severe. Avoiding depletion of an estate that could be passed to loved ones was, and is, a primary reason for the creation of living wills. The living will is just one form of planning for the end of life. It supplements a regular will, which becomes effective at death. In a sense, a living will is insurance against the frustration of the regular will, as it serves to prevent the will’s creator from being sustained on the brink of death as the assets that would otherwise pass through the will are drained on medical expenses.

Living Will Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need a living will, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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What is a Living Will in Utah?

what is a living will in utah

What is a living will?

A living will is a legal document in which you direct your doctor to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, Living Wills deal with health, legal and personal care and are used during a person’s lifetime only. It is similar to a Power of Attorney that deals with financial matters and things relating to legal issues but different from your Last Will and Testament. It will provide guidance and will release medical practitioners from legal and ethical repercussions when cure is impossible. It also prevents guilt and disagreement among family members. There will be no second-guessing what your loved one may have wanted because it will be stated clearly what the patient wished done. A Living Will is certainly something to consider as people age. Whose only purpose is to prolong your dying process, if you are in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness.

Who can prepare a living will?

You can prepare a living will if you are of sound mind and are at least 18 years of age, or have graduated from high school, or are married. You must sign your living will in the presence of two witnesses who are both at least 18 years of age.

What medical treatment can I refuse in my living will?

You can refuse all medical treatment including but not limited to cardiac resuscitation, artificial feeding, blood, kidney dialysis, antibiotics, surgery, diagnostic tests, and mechanical respiration. You can, however, direct your doctor to administer only treatment that will keep you comfortable and alleviate your pain.

Also in your living will, you can designate another individual, known as your surrogate, to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself through d help of legal practitioner.

When does my living will become operative?

Your living will becomes operative when you and a lawyer provides a copy of it to your doctor, and your doctor determines you to be incompetent and in a terminal condition or state of permanent unconsciousness. At that time, your doctor has to act in accordance with the instructions outlined in your living will through the help of your doctor. If your doctor is not in good conscience, the lawyer will assist you following the instructions in your living will, your doctor must inform you or your lawyer of this fact. At that time, your doctor  and lawyer is required to assist you in finding another doctor who will comply with the instructions in your living will.

Living Wills should be updated from time-to-time because with advances in medical science and your lawyer for reference purpose, what was once a heroic measure may later become a routine procedure. Physical disability does not render a patient incapable of making a decision. Living Wills should also be changed as a patient’s health changes and should be discussed with their family doctor. And lawyer A copy should be given to your doctor, your lawyer and closest family member.

A living will lets you decide now what medical treatment you want in the future if you become incompetent and are in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. It helps to eliminate uncertainty regarding your desire for specific medical treatment, and provides guidance to your doctors and family members. Failure to prepare a living will may cause increased stress on your loved ones who are left to decide the proper medical treatment for you.

Free Consultation with a Utah Living Will Lawyer

If you are here, you may need help with a living will or a lawsuit regarding a living will. If so, call Ascent Law for your free consultation with a Utah attorney (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews


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