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Living WiLLsin KentucKy
A Living Will gives you a voice in decisions about your medical care when you are
unconscious or too ill to communicate. As long as you are able to express your own
decisions, your Living Will will not be used and you can accept or refuse any medical
treatment. But if you become seriously ill, you may lose the ability to participate in decisions
about your own treatment.
You have the right to make decisions about your health care. No
health care may be given to you over your objection, and necessary
health care may not be stopped or withheld if you object.
The Kentucky Living Will Directive Act of 1994 was passed to ensure that citizens have the
right to make decisions regarding their own medical care, including the right to accept or
refuse treatment. This right to decide — to say yes or no to proposed treatment — applies
to treatments that extend life, like a breathing machine or a feeding tube.
In Kentucky a Living Will allows you to leave instructions in four critical areas. You can:
Designate a Health Care Surrogate
Refuse or request life prolonging treatment
Refuse or request articial feeding or hydration (tube feeding)
Express your wishes regarding organ donation
Everyone age 18 or older can have a Living Will. The effectiveness of a Living Will is
suspended during pregnancy.
It is not necessary that you have an attorney draw up your Living Will. Kentucky law
(KRS 311.625) actually species the form you should ll out. You probably should see an
attorney if you make changes to the Living Will form. The law also prohibits relatives, heirs,
health care providers or guardians from witnessing the Will. You may wish to use a Notary
Public in lieu of witnesses.
The Living Will form includes two sections. The rst section is the Health Care Surrogate
section which allows you to designate one or more persons, such as a family member
or close friend, to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to decide for
yourself. The second section is the Living Will section in which you may make your wishes
known regarding life-prolonging treatment so your Health Care Surrogate or Doctor will
know what you want them to do. You can also decide whether to donate any of your organs
in the event of your death.
When choosing a surrogate, remember that the person you name will have the power
to make important treatment decisions, even if other people close to you might urge a
different decision. Choose the person best qualied to be your health care surrogate. Also,
consider picking a back-up person, in case your rst choice isn’t available when needed.
Be sure to tell the person that you have named them a surrogate and make sure that
the person understands what’s most important to you. Your wishes should be laid out
specically in the Living Will.
If you decide to make a Living Will, be sure to talk about it with your family and your doctor.
The conversation is just as important as the document.
A copy of any Living Will should be put in your medical records. Each time you are admitted
for an overnight stay in a hospital or nursing home, you will be asked whether you have a
Living Will. You are responsible for telling your hospital or nursing home that you have a
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