What is a Living Will?
A Living Will or advance health care directives to physicians is a written statement that lets people state their wishes regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to communicate their decisions. Declining health is one of the common reasons why people create a Living Will. They intend to designate a specific person to make health care decisions for them.
According to Thailand National Health Act 2007, a person shall have the right to make a Living Will in writing, in accordance with the rules and procedure prescribed in the Ministerial Regulation, to refuse the public health service, which is provided merely to prolong his/her terminal stage of life or to make a Living Will to refuse the service as to cease the severe suffering from illness. A public health personnel complying with the Living Will shall not be liable to any responsibility whatsoever.
Who can make a Living Will?
Generally, anyone who is at least 18 years old and with the ability to understand what the Living Will is, its contents, and its purpose.
The Physician will consider whether such person is of sound mind by examining their ability to communicate with others, to understand their conditions, and to understand the effects of refusing medical treatment.
When does the Living Will take effect?
A Living Will takes effect if you are ill, injured, or in a comatose and when your primary physician decides that you can no longer make your own healthcare decisions. It has no power after death.
If the person providing a Living Will is pregnant, this shall take effect after the pregnancy.
Why is a Living Will important?
A Living Will is important because it provides direction and carries out your wishes whether or not you want to be kept alive or be kept on life support. It reduces uncertainty during a difficult time by making decisions on the medical procedures that might be needed to prolong your life. This will lessen the burden to your family members who otherwise have to make the painful decision themselves.
How does a Living Will differ from a Last Will and Testament?
A Living Will states your requests regarding life support in the event that you are in a vegetative state or coma and is not able to communicate your wishes. This is used and effective when you are still alive.
A Last Will and Testament, on the other hand, dictates the way that your assets will be distributed and utilized after your death.
What are the limitations of a Living Will?
- A living will does not allow euthanasia or mercy killing.
- It has nothing to do with property.
- An individual may not appoint an agent or proxy thru a medical or healthcare Power of Attorney to make decisions regarding his or her health care and medical treatment in specified circumstances.