Living will

A living will is important if a person can no longer decide for themselves. But precisely because it can have such a crucial meaning, there are many uncertainties - here you will learn what you should consider.

Living will

A living will is important if a person can no longer decide for themselves. But precisely because it can have such a crucial meaning, there are many uncertainties - here you will learn what you should consider.

Living Will - the law

The first Act on Living Will has been in force since 1 September 2009. Accordingly, living wills are only effective if they are written in writing, signed by the exhibitor or signed by a notarized hand sign. Certification of the signature or notarization of the living will is not compulsory. Anyone who writes such a document must be of legal age and capable of consent. A living will can be withdrawn informally at any time. Older living wills issued prior to the entry into force of the law will remain in effect. The living will is regulated by law in §§ 1901 a ff. BGB.

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Living will does not replace the precautionary power

Living Will? Pension power is enough, some think. This is not so, a precautionary power is used to give another person for emergencies decision-making powers - so the "who" to clarify. On the other hand, the living will says what to do in the event of terminal care - that is, the "what".

It makes sense to combine the living will with a precautionary power. This person of your trust should ensure that your interests are enforced. Give this person a copy of the living will.

Will explain with will

As long as a person is still in full possession of his mental abilities, he can make the decision himself on all necessary medical measures. However, it becomes problematic when a patient can no longer decide for himself due to an illness (for example dementia, vegetative state).

With a written directive, people can express before the onset of the emergency that certain medical measures are performed or omitted when they can no longer decide for themselves. The living will ensures that the patient's will governs the treatment, even if a patient is unable to express it.

If the stipulations in a living will and treatment situation of the patient, both doctors and legal representatives (supervisor, authorized representative) are bound to it.

Decide beforehand

With a living will you can give instructions for terminal care in the case of disqualification. This is on the one hand to a possible treatment waiver. This means that no life-prolonging measures are taken when a person is terminally ill and dying.

On the other hand it concerns the palliative treatment. Dying people get pain-relieving medication in sufficient dosage, even if they as a side effect may accelerate the death. With the legally prohibited active euthanasia - ie the targeted killing of a human being - this has nothing to do.

Avoid pitfalls

A living will has to be in written form. It can be written by hand. Alternatively, you can make them on the computer or the typewriter or use appropriate forms. On the disposal two persons should attest the will of the author with their signature. The certification or authentication is possible, but not essential.

Inform your family members and family doctor that you have written this document and tell them where to find it. It's best to put a card in your wallet that indicates a living will.

Review your living will annually and sign it with a current date. It is clear that your will remains unchanged. Because the document is decades old, there can be problems. In your order, you can also discuss how you are personally involved in organ donation.

Clear formulations

If the stipulations in a living will are too unclear or general, they are not legally binding. This was decided in August 2016 by the Federal Court of Justice. Then the patient's representatives decide with the doctors about the upcoming therapy - the basis is what the patient might have wished for.

Formulate as concrete as possible! For example, do not write "I do not want to hang on tubes" or "I want to die alone".These statements give too much room for interpretation and are too unspecific.

Rather, instructions for specific disease states are important. For example, consider the following situations:

  • Should an artificial diet be started, continued or stopped when you are in the vegetative state?
  • Should the dose of painkillers and tranquilizers be chosen so high that you will not have any complaints, even if a small lifespan reduction can be the result?
  • Should a disease situation that leads to death be revived in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest or respiratory failure?

Besides things that you reject, you can also enumerate points that you want. These include, for example, certain nursing measures such as oral care to prevent the feeling of thirst, or special medicines to effectively combat pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, restlessness, vomiting and other symptoms.

It is recommended that you discuss a living will with your doctor or another doctor of your choice. He can best explain to you which measures are possible in which situations and what opportunities and risks exist. Then you can decide which decision best suits your values.

In the case of particularly momentous decisions, doctors and representatives sometimes can not agree on whether the intended decision actually corresponds to the will of the person concerned. In this case, the approval of the Supervision Court must be obtained.

Missing living will

If there is no living will, the caregiver or agent must determine the alleged patient's will. This is in relation to previous verbal or written statements, ethical or religious beliefs or other personal values ​​of the patient.

Arbitration board: The German Hospice Foundation has set up an arbitration board, which advises on disputes relating to living wills. Relatives and physicians can seek expert help there when the interpretation of an injunction is doubtful. The service is free. The Arbitration Board can be reached by calling 0231-7380730 or on the Internet at .

PDF downloads
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