What is a living will?

A living will is a document that lets people state their wishes or end-of-life medical care, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.  It is also referred to as a directive to physicians or advance directive.  It gives your loved ones peace of mind, should you be mentally incapacitated or in a coma and unable to make medical decisions for yourself.  To make a living will, a person must be over the age of majority and of sound mind.

It is crucial to bear in mind that a general power of attorney will not be sufficient, as the person who granted the power of attorney will not be able to ratify or give consent to anything done, in terms of the Power of Attorney.

South Africa does not have any legislation dealing with the validity or enforceability of living wills, but it remains an extremely valuable document.  The South African Medical Association has stipulated specific guidelines for practitioners to adhere to, as patients can refuse medical treatment unless a specific law states that the doctor must provide certain treatment.

It is suggested that a copy of the Living Will is kept by your doctor, as well as a close family member/friend, so that your wishes can be adhered to.

5 Reasons why you need a living will: 

A living will speaks for you when you cannot speak for yourself.  For example, if someone is in a coma and there is no reasonable chance of recovery, a living will could state whether or not the patient wishes to be kept alive through artificial life support.

Having a living will in place, spares your loved ones from making life-or-death decisions.  It will be up to you whether or not you want to remain on life support, for instance.  This will eliminate any emotionally straining arguments family members might have over the situation.

The document will also let you have a say in specific medical procedures and organ donation.

The financial burden will be lessened on the family.  Being on life-support, especially where there is no reasonable chance or recovery, is incredibility expensive.  While it might seem heartless to put a price on life, medical bills could be devastating for many families.

A living will gives you peace of mind.  Life is unpredictable and you want to make tragic situations as easy for yourself and your family.

A living will cannot include instructions or directives for euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide.  You are entitled to request for specific treatments to be withheld or withdrawn, but you cannot ask a doctor to end your life.

If you are interested in drafting a living will, please contact the NSV Team 

Jack van Zyl 082 773 7076 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Johan Slabber 083 454 8634 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marchelle van Zyl 082 850 8792 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Annerien Dykman 072 284 6263 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visit our website         www.nsvattorneys.co.za

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