Pennsylvania: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIVING WILLS
May 31, 2023
PLAN YOUR LIVING WILL IN PA?
Creating a living will is an important step in ensuring that your healthcare preferences are respected in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself. By clearly stating your wishes in a legally binding document, you can help ease the burden on your loved ones during a difficult time. Don’t face the complex process of estate administration alone. From our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, our probate and estate administration attorneys proudly serve the surrounding areas of Greensburg, Washington, Waynesburg, Uniontown, and New Castle. For detailed guidance, reach out today, and schedule a meeting.
Living wills, also known as advanced directives, are legal documents that allow for specifying healthcare preferences in the event that an individual become unable to make decisions for end-of-life situations.
Living wills in PA are governed by the state’s Advance Directive for Health Care Act. This act defines the requirements for creating a valid living will and outlines the legal protections afforded to individuals who create them. Contact a living will lawyer at our law firm today for assistance in creating a valid living will.
CREATING A LIVING WILL IN PENNSYLVANIA
To sign a valid living will in PA, the individual must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. It must also signed in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign it. The witnesses cannot be your healthcare provider or someone who stands to inherit from an individual’s estate. A living will should clearly state healthcare preferences, including wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment. It is important to be as specific as possible, as this will help ensure that the relevant wishes are carried out, as intended. If preferences change, then one can update the document.
This document may include preferences for:
WHEN DOES A LIVING WILL BECOME ACTIVE
Living wills in Pennsylvania become active when the attending physician determines that an individual is unable to make decisions and an individual has entered end-stage medical condition, is permanently unconscious, or have a serious illness or injury that is likely to result in death. An end-stage medical condition is defined as an incurable and irreversible medical condition in an advanced state caused by injury, disease, or illness. This condition is such that, even with the application of medical treatment, the individual’s life expectancy is limited, and the dying process has begun
End-stage heart or lung disease
Extremely advanced Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia
Final-stage kidney or liver disease
Once again, it is important to note that a living will only become active when the attending physician determines that there is an end-stage medical condition, a permanently unconscious, or have a serious illness or injury that is likely to result in your death. Until that point, you will be able to make your own healthcare decisions, and your living will does not come into effect.
LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR LIVING WILLS IN PENNSYLVANIA
Pennsylvania law provides several legal protections for individuals who create living wills. These include:
Immunity from liability: Healthcare providers who act in good faith and in accordance with a valid living will are immune from liability for any resulting injury or death.
Informed consent: Before providing any treatment, healthcare providers must obtain
informed consent from the patient or their healthcare agent unless the patient is unable to provide consent and there is no living will in place.
Dispute resolution: If there is a dispute regarding the interpretation or implementation of a living will, the case may be brought before a court for resolution.