A Pennsylvania Living Will is a legal document drafted according to Pennsylvania law that expresses a person's wishes and intentions for health care when that person becomes incompetent and has an "end-stage medical condition." The person covered by a Living Will is called the "Principal," and the person acting on the Principal's behalf is called his/her "Health Care Agent." An end-stage medical condition is a condition that is not curable and cannot be reversed. A medical condition is deemed "end stage" when the principal's Attending Physician gives an opinion that to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the condition will result in death even if medical treatment is continued.
In order to make a living will in Allegheny County or anywhere in Pennsylvania, a person has to be of sound mind and be at least eighteen years of age (or if younger, the person has to be a high school graduate or officially emancipated from his/her parents). The actual document itself has to be signed and dated by the person seeking the living will as well as witnessed by two individuals who are at least eighteen years old.
When does a Living Will in Pennsylvania become effective?
A Pennsylvania living will becomes operative when a copy is provided to the Attending Physician of the principal, and the physician determines that the principal is both incompetent and has an end-stage medical condition/is permanently unconscious. The Attending Physician shall then act in compliance with the provisions of the living will and the principal's wishes for their health care decisions. Health care providers who are given a copy of a living will are to also make this legal document part of the patient's medical record.
A Pennsylvania living will is generally valid until revoked. A living will can be revoked at any time, even if the person revoking is not of sound mind at the time of revocation.
What's in a PA Living Will?
A living will expresses a person's wishes and instructions for health care and health care decision-making. The actual document itself can describe any limitations that the Principal imposes upon the authority of his/her Health Care Agent, as well as indicates the intent of the Principal with regard to initiating, continuing, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining medical treatment. This document can also identify if the Principal wants tube feeding or any other artificial form of hydration or nutrition. Additionally, within a Pennsylvania living will, a person may nominate a guardian of the person of the Principal, and can include specific language regarding important health care decisions and how they are to be carried out.
What is a Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive?
"Advance Health Care Directives" in Pennsylvania can consist of a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will, or a written combination of a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.
Contact our Pittsburgh Living Wills Attorneys
In terms of decision-making and planning for your future, a Living Will that clearly expresses your wishes for medical treatment if the situation arises is an important and necessary document to have in your possession. Our Pittsburgh Living Will Lawyers are experienced in drafting these important documents and can draft a living will on your behalf to ensure that your health care is handled according to your own wishes. Our attorneys can also assist you with drafting a Pennsylvania Will, or a Power of Attorney.
Find out how we are different from other attorneys by calling our office and setting up a consultation with one of our experienced Wills and Estates attorneys today. We routinely accept cases in the following Pennsylvania counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Westmoreland, Washington, Greene, Somerset, Fayette, Lawrence, and Mercer.
Email our Pittsburgh estate lawyers to schedule an in-person or telephone consultation. You can also contact us by telephoning our Pittsburgh office at 412-281-9906, our Cranberry Township office at 724-776-9906 or our Southpointe (Canonsburg) office at 724-436-5500, or toll-free at 1-855-VARI-LAW. We can also schedule a consultation at other meeting locations throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area.