last update 1-06-06


You've come to terms with your decision. You're one of the many Americans who has decided that you don't want your life to be artificially prolonged if you have a terminal and irreversible illness, or if you are in a continual comatose state with no chance of recovery. With the ethics out of the way, now what do you do?

Living wills is a mis-nomer. They are not related to "Living" but rather give instructions to your family that you want to die with dignity if you are ever in a position that does not provide hope of recovering. A living will provides instructions about your medical treatment if you become terminally ill whereas a regular will provides instructions as to what you want to happen with your property and assets.

A living will can be executed by a person and simply witnessed by two people who will not inherit anything from the person when they decease. It does NOT need to be notarized.

The law recognizes that all persons have the fundamental right to control the decisions relating to their own medical care, including the decision to have life-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn in instances where such persons are diagnosed as having a terminal and irreversible condition.

Based on the above, the law provides that a declaration setting forth such decisions, normally referred to as a living will, will be recognized. Some of the provisions of the statute relating to the declaration are:

  • --1 A Louisiana health care provider cannot be held liable, either civilly or criminally, if he acts in accordance with this statement of intent.

  • --2 Once you have executed your living will, you can have it registered at the Secretary of State's office. However, this is not required and the living will is still valid even if it is not registered.

  • --3 If you later decide that you don't want the provisions you have set out in your living will, you can revoke it without regard for your mental state or capacity at that time, by defacing it, tearing it, burning it, or by a written revocation expressing your intent to revoke it, or by an oral or nonverbal expression of the intent to revoke the declaration.

  • --4 If a terminally ill and incompetent person has had a curator appointed for him, the curator has the power to execute a living will for that person.

  • --5 Louisiana law now provides that Louisiana will honor the living will of a person who now lives in Louisiana but whose living will was drawn up while living in another state.

    The statute provides a simple form that anyone can use to execute a declaration. A copy follows:

    In addition to completing the proposed form, a form can be completed upon obtaining or renewing a Louisiana driver's license and the fact that a living will has been made will be imprinted on the license. The form would be kept with the drivers license records.

    Source: LSA RS 40:1299.58.1 et seq

    Example of a Living Will




    Declaration made this day of , 2005

    I, *client* , being of sound mind, willfully and voluntarily make known my desire that my dying shall not be artificially prolonged under the circumstances set forth below and do hereby declare:

    If at any time I should have an incurable injury, disease, or illness, or be in a continual profound comatose state with no reasonable chance of recovery certified to be a terminal and irreversible condition by two physicians who have personally examined me, one of whom shall be my attending physician, and the physicians have determined that my death will occur whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized and where the application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to prolong artificially the dying process, I direct

    ____That all life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hyrdration, be withheld or withdrawn so that food and water will not be administered invasively.

    OR ____That life-sustaining procedures, except nutrition and hydration, be withheld or withdrawn so that food and water can be administered invasively.

    I further direct that I be permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication or the performance of any medical procedure deemed necessary to provide me with comfort care.

    In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of such life-sustaining procedures, it is my intention that this declaration shall be honored by my family and physician(s) as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences from such refusal.

    In accordance with the definitions in LRS 1299.58.2, the following terms have the meaning ascribed by statute:

    Life-sustaining procedure means any medical procedure or intervention which, within reasonable medical judgment, would serve only ot prolong the dying process for a person diagnosed as having a terminal and irreversible condition, including such procedures as the invasive administration of nutrition and hydration and the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The term shall not include any measure deemed necessary to provide comfort care.

    Terminal and irreversible condition means a continual profound comatose state with no reasonable chance of recovery or a condition caused by injury, disease, or illness which, within reasonable medical judgment, would produce death and for which the application of life- sustaining procedures would serve only to postpone the moment of death.

    I authorize *poa* , to make treatment decisions on my behalf should I be (1) diagnosed as suffering from a terminal condition and (2) comatose, incompetent or otherwise mentally or physically incapable of communication. I have discussed my desires concerning terminal care with this person, and I trust his/her judgment on my behalf. I understand that if I have not filled in any name in this clause, my declaration will nevertheless be given effect should the appropriate circumstances arise.

    I understand the full import of this declaration and I am emotionally and mentally competent to make this declaration. I am a resident of the City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana.



    The declarant has been personally known to me and I believe him or her to be of sound mind.

    witness :



    ========================  WARNING  =======================
                          AND DISCLAIMER
    This information is provided for the reader's benefit in
    becoming familiar with the legal matters discussed.  Your
    particular facts may be different from the points above.
    You should not rely on the above data without consulting a 
    attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case
    and the law of your state.

    If you live in Louisiana and want to talk about your situation, please call me at:

      Marvin E. Owen
      3036 Brakley Drive
      Baton Rouge, La 70816
      ph 225-292-0099
      toll-free 1-888-292-0116

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