Physician assisted suicide or euthanasia lawful in California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington for some time, is part of the scope of living will advance directives accorded by terminally ill patients planning end-of-life care and medical treatment. Living will advance directives are construed as the wishes of the patient undergoing medical intervention. Written in advance while a person is still able to consent to treatment on their own, living will directives are transferrable to an appointed guardian or trustee at the time a patient becomes incapacitated. Healthcare proxy usually assigned a primary care physician responsible for a terminally ill patients care, ensures a patient’s “incapacitation” demands transfer or durable power of attorney (“DPOA”) to a family guardian or trustee.
The mid-twentieth century conception of “Living Will” integration as part of U.S. law was originated as part of the public policy agenda of the Euthanasia Society of America. Intended to steer public support of legalized physician-assisted suicide, the Society promoted euthanasia as end-of-life medical treatment for terminally ill patients. The legal definition of Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC) within living will advance directives, therefore, is at least partly in pursuance of patient authorized euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide in states where it is permitted.
The single most important issue related to the passage of comprehensive legislation for euthanasia election, is the rule element of requisite mental capacity of a terminally ill patient. Medical informed consent agreements require evidence of a patient’s full mental capacity. A physician cannot perform medical intervention without the consent of the patient. In the absence of living will advance directives if a patient is diagnosed to be mentally incompetent or incapacitated for other reasons, the procedure cannot be performed. In emergency scenarios, court ordered treatment is possible, yet due process for medical intervention excludes euthanasia. Existing diagnosis of psychiatric or psychological disorders affecting a party seeking euthanasia, has been a topic of significant debate in recent years for this reason.
Living advance directives are established by a person in advance of incapacitation or the latter part of a terminal illness. Establishing a patient’s capacity is critical for euthanasia informed consent. If written advance directive is in place as part of a living will, a guardian, trustee, or healthcare proxy can take the next steps on behalf of the patient’s stated wishes once they are deemed incapacitated by a physician. The conversion of living will advance directives to estate plan last will and testament is also easier if the former is in place. Directives may include instructions for funeral and interment arrangements, as well as coverage of funeral and mortuary expense by the decedent’s insurer. Planned giving specialists will benefit from knowing more about how an estate’s living will directives affect nonprofit charitable giving plan strategy.
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U.S. States permitting physician assisted suicide of terminally ill patients require living will advance directives for informed consent to treatment after a patient is incapacitated.
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