Living wills

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Living wills are legally valid and binding documents that direct a patient's physician to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures in certain circumstances. Most jurisdictions recognize a patient's right to make this directive if he or she is afflicted with a terminal condition, if death is imminent, and if life-sustaining procedures serve only to postpone the moment of death. When acting pursuant to a properly prepared and executed living will, the physician and others who participate in decisions to withhold or withdraw life sustaining procedures are protected from civil and criminal liability. Living wills must be prepared and executed according to state law to be valid and effective. For assistance in the drafting and execution of a living will, consult an attorney.

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