Four Documents that Every Adult Should Have: #2 – Ohio Living Will Declaration : Planning for the Future / Dealing with the Past
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Four Documents that Every Adult Should Have: #2 – Ohio Living Will Declaration

by Betty Burley on 10/29/18

This is the second in a series of four articles that discuss the four documents that I think that every adult should have. 

Last week I discussed the first of four documents that every adult should have – the Healthcare Power of Attorney.  This week we continue that discussion with information about a document that complements the first- the Ohio Living Will Declaration. 

2.       Ohio Living Will Declaration

Who should have an Ohio Living Will Declaration?

Ideally, every adult (beginning at age 18) should have this important document, as well as a Healthcare Power of Attorney.  These documents are usually executed at the same time because they work together.  Although our chances of actually needing these documents increase as we age, even young people can be gravely injured in an accident or develop terminal illness. 

What is an Ohio Living Will Declaration?

The Ohio Living Will Declaration is often referred to as just you “Living will.”  This is a document that allows you to state your wishes about health care in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself because you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious AND can no longer make health care decisions for yourself.

If, in your doctor’s medical opinion, you no longer have the capacity to make informed health care choices for yourself AND you are terminally ill OR you are permanently unconscious, then, and only then, does your Ohio Living Will Declaration come into play. 

Your Ohio Living Will Declaration has multiple parts.  It tells your physician whether to begin life-supporting measures, including hydration, nutrition and artificial respiration if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious.  It tells your physician whether or not these same measures should be removed if they already have been started and you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. 

There are spaces provided in the document for special instructions for your medical team.  My mother passed away in November 2017.  Years prior to that, she told me that if she was unable to take fluids by mouth, she wanted an IV for fluids right up until death, but no feeding tube and no respirator.  She had a fear of being thirsty while she was dying.  She made sure that I knew this as her Healthcare Power of Attorney as well.

Why do I need an Ohio Living Will Declaration?

Several times, a potential client has told me, “My family knows that I want no heroic measures if I am dying.”  I tell these clients that “no heroic measures” may mean something completely different to them than it means to me – or more importantly – what it means to their physicians.  By filling out an Ohio Living Will Declaration, you are transmitting your thoughts about “no heroic measures” to the people who will be caring for you.

Where should I keep my Ohio Living Will Declaration?

Keep this document with your Healthcare Power of Attorney form.  Your doctor should have a copy in your record.  If you know that you are going to be undergoing treatment in a hospital, they should have a copy as well.  Your designated agent in your Healthcare Power of Attorney should know where these documents are – and it is a good idea to give them a copy.

What an Ohio Living Will Declaration is NOT

Your Ohio Living Will Declaration is not the same as your “Will” or your “Last Will and Testament.”  The Ohio Living Will Declaration does not appoint an executor for your estate or tell the probate court how to distribute your money and your possessions.  The Ohio Living Will Declaration and your Last Will and Testament are not substitutes for each other.  You’ll need both documents.  We will talk about your “Will” or “Last Will and Testament” in the third installment in this series.

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Attorney Betty Burley has been practicing law in Vermilion, Ohio since 2010.  She offers consultations in person, by telephone or through Facetime / Skype.  Attorney Burley offers special pricing on a “Four Documents” package that includes a Healthcare Power of Attorney, Ohio Living Will, Last Will and Testament and Durable Power of Attorney.  Your planning consultation is provided free of charge.  


Call 440-967-1529 or visit our website at www.burleylaw.com to schedule your Four Documents planning appointment.

All information provided in our blog posts is intended for educational purposes only.  This article is not intended as, and should not be substituted for legal advice.  Attorney Burley is not your attorney unless you have signed an agreement and paid any required fees.

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