A Living Will gives you a voice in decisions about your medical care when you are unconscious or too ill to communicate. As long as you are able to express your own decisions, your Living Will will not be used and you can accept or refuse any medical treatment. But if you become seriously ill, you may lose the ability to participate in decisions about your own treatment.
You have the right to make decisions about your health care. No health care may be given to you over your objection, and necessary health care may not be stopped or withheld if you object.
The Kentucky Living Will Directive Act of 1994 was passed to ensure that citizens have the right to make decisions regarding their own medical care, including the right to accept or refuse treatment. This right to decide – to say yes or no to proposed treatment – applies to treatments that extend life, like a breathing machine or a feeding tube.
In Kentucky, a Living Will allows you to leave instructions in four critical areas. You can:
Designate a Health Care Surrogate
Refuse or request life prolonging treatment
Refuse or request artificial feeding or hydration (tube feeding)
Express your wishes regarding organ donation
Everyone age 18 or older can have a Living Will; however, the effectiveness of a Living Will is suspended during pregnancy.
It is not necessary that you have an attorney draw up your Living Will. Kentucky law (KRS 311.625) actually specifies the form you should fill out. You probably should see an attorney if you make changes to your Living Will form. The law also prohibits relatives, heirs, health care providers or guardians from witnessing the will. You may wish to use a Notary Public in lieu of witnesses.
To download a copy of Kentucky’s Living Will Packet, go to http://ag.ky.gov/family/consumerprotection/livingwills