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March 29, 2005

Louisiana Living Wills

With the Terry Schiavo situation unfolding in Florida before a national audience, now is the time to take a look at Louisiana laws concerning living wills. According to the Louisiana Hospital Association, a living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that describes the extent of medical treatment that a person desires should he or she be in a coma or similar condition with no reasonable chance of recovery nor ability to participate in decisions about treatment. A living will may also be used to designate who should execute decisions concerning end of life decisions.

Clark Cossť, chief governmental officer and general counsel for the Louisiana Hospital Association, explains in a report by The Advocate that there is a potential for conflict when a patient has not designated someone to make end of life choices. In that case, Louisiana law would give authority to a court-appointed guardian if there was one. Otherwise, the spouse, as long as not legally separated, would make the decision. If there is no qualified spouse, the available adult children would have to agree on what course to follow. If there are no qualified children, the decision goes to the parents, siblings and other relatives.

If a person does make the decision to execute a living will, Tenet Louisiana's Memorial Medical Center reports that the person must notify their physician of the existence of the document. In addition, the living will may be registered with the Office of the Secretary of State. However, this is not required.

A comprehensive look at Louisiana's living will policies and a free copy of a blank living will as provided by the Louisiana Legislature (La. R.S. 40:1299.58.3) can be found here.

Copies of living wills from the Louisiana Hospital Association may be purchased here.

For information concerning the Louisiana Living Will Registry and the filing requirements for living wills, check out the Lousiana Secretary of State's website here.

Posted by Capital Clerks at March 29, 2005 10:06 AM
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