Advance Health Care Directive
The Advance Health Care Directive (also known as a "Living Will") is a document which allows an individual (known as the "Declarant") to state in advance his or her wishes as concerns medical and health care treatments and procedures which might unduly prolong the dying process. The Missouri Death Prolonging Procedures Act (Chapter 459 of the Missouri Revised Statutes) allows any competent adult individual to create and sign an Advance Health Care Directive.
The Advance Health Care Directive must be created and signed by the Declarant prior to incapacitation. The Declarant retains absolute control over his or her treatment decisions while competent and may modify or verbally terminate such directive without regard to his or her mental or physical condition.
The Advance Health Care Directive is given operative effect only if the Declarant is unable to make his or her treatment decisions and is determined by the written opinion of the attending physician to have sustained substantial and irreversible loss of medical capacity and is unable to eat or drink without medical assistance, or is determined to to have an incurable or irreversible condition in which death will occur within a relatively short period of time regardless of the application of death-prolonging medical procedures.
The term death-prolonging procedures may be defined by the Declarant to include any medical procedures or treatments he or she desires. Normally, the term is defined to include all types of medcial procedures, treatments or interventions which when applied would serve only to artificially prolong the natural dying process. Examples include, but are not limited to, artificial ventilation and respiration. Pain medication necessary to provide care, comfort or to alleviate pain is always allowed and many Advance Health Care Directives will include a provision which states the application of artificially supplied hydration shall be retained and allowed.
It is strongly recommended the Advance Health Care Directive be drafted as part of and incorporated into a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions (which is the case with the documents offered through this website) as both documents address important health care matters. By doing so the Declarant is able to designate a legal representative (known as a "Proxy") to follow through with the Declarant's wishes. In most cases the Declarant will designate a Proxy who is the same individual as the Attorney in Fact in the Declarant's Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions.
The Advance Health Care Directive is a critical and important component of any individual's estate plan. If an individual should enter into a terminal or incurable and irreversible condition without such document in place there is the possibility the individual may remain on life support indefinitely. In such cases the individual's family or loved ones would be required to petition the local probate court to prove the individual wished not to be supported by such dealth-prolonging procedures.
You may secure your right-to-die and avoid unncessary court proceedings by creating a Advance Health Care Directive while you are competent. To create and acquire such important document please review and complete the Request Form found on this website. The document drafted and provided to you will be incorporated into the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and will incorporate the provisions of the Missouri Death Prolonging Procedures Act (Chapter 459 of the Missouri Revised Statutes) which will thoroughly address all medical and health care treatments and procedures.