Quick and Easy South Carolina Health Care Directives and Living Wills
Experienced attorneys have collaborated with FindLaw to create South Carolina health care directive and living will forms you can complete without needing to leave the comfort of home. Just follow along with an easy step-by-step process to create a personalized health care directive and living will that’s tailored to South Carolina law.
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Reliable South Carolina Health Care Directives and Living Wills
If you ever become terminally ill, you may lose the ability to communicate your own health care choices. Your doctors may then administer treatments for you that you would not have wanted. To make your own choices about medical procedures that only prolong natural death, you should create a health care directive and living will. Although these issues are unpleasant to consider, it can be good to know that your family and doctors will understand your health care wishes and will not need to argue about your medical treatment.
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Health Care Directive & Living Will
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Create your health care directive & living will in under an hour.
Answer Some Questions
Decide who will be your health care agent/proxy and which medical treatments you would request or refuse.
Create an Account
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Complete Your Document
Once you answer the relevant questions, we do the hard part and create your unique document.
Print, Sign & Make It Legal
Print and sign your document according to the instructions. Give a copy to your doctors and agent/proxy.
What’s Next To Make My South Carolina Health Care Directive and Living Will Valid?
Follow these steps: See full process
Make decisions on your medical care.
A health care directive and living will is a type of advance health care directive (an “advance directive“). You (the “declarant”) can use your health care directive and living will to make decisions on your medical choices in advance. To complete your document, you will need to state which treatments you would accept or reject if you ever suffer from a terminal condition or permanent unconsciousness.
If you would prefer a natural death without heroic medical treatments, you can make this clear in your health care directive and living will. It can be tempting to avoid thinking about this scenario, but it may give you peace of mind to know that you have made your own decisions on potential future medical procedures. If you have any trouble with your choices, you should discuss them with a trusted doctor or loved one.
Choose a health care agent.
In South Carolina, you have the option of naming a trusted person to make health care decisions for you. Their authority would begin if you become unable to direct your own health care.
The person you choose for this duty is usually called a health care agent (an “agent”). You may also hear people call them a health care proxy. The legal document you use to name this person is called a health care power of attorney (a “POA”).
You do not have to select a health care agent, but you may want to. It can be good to know that there is a trusted person ready to make treatment decisions for you just in case of medical incapacity. Your agent’s legal duty is to carry out the instructions in your health care directive and living will. If medical issues arise that are not covered by your advance directives, your agent should act in your best interest with your personal preferences in mind.
Under South Carolina’s Health Care Power of Attorney Act, your health care agent must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and cannot be:
- Your health care provider
- An employee of your health care provider or nursing care facility
- The spouse of your health care provider or their employee
The exception to the above restrictions would be if the person is a relative of yours. If your relative falls into one of the above categories, they may still act as your agent.
Many people choose a close loved one as their health care agent. You might consider your spouse, parent, sibling, or adult child. You should choose somebody who you trust completely with broad authority over your care. Your agent will be able to direct your health care and make any medical decisions you would have been able to make when you were competent to do so. They will have access to your medical records too.
However, if you wish to limit your agent’s powers or give specific instructions, you can do this in your POA document.
You should discuss this responsibility with your agent before naming them. You will need to make sure they are willing and able to carry out this important task. It is wise to select an alternate agent too. This person will act as your agent if your first choice becomes unable to.
Sign your health care directive and living will.
To make your health care directive and living will legally valid, you must sign it and follow the execution requirements in South Carolina’s statutes. Section 40 of South Carolina’s Death With Dignity Act details the signing requirements:
- You must sign and date your health care directive and living will in the presence of a notary public and two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be your attending physician or their employee. One of your witnesses can be your notary public.
- Your witnesses must sign an affidavit. This verifies that they are not related to you, do not stand to inherit from you, are not financially responsible for your health care, and are not beneficiaries of your life insurance. Further, you must notarize this affidavit.
- No more than one of your witnesses may be an employee of a health facility where you receive treatment.
Note that there is an additional requirement if you are a hospital patient or a resident in a nursing home when you sign. If that is the case, then one of your witnesses must be an ombudsman. An ombudsman is a government-appointed official who can act as a neutral party to the execution of your health care directive and living will. You can learn more about finding an ombudsman from the South Carolina Office of Ombudsman or your county government.
Distribute your advance directives.
Once you have properly signed your documents, you need to make sure to distribute them to the people who are involved with your health care. Your health care professionals and family members will not be able to honor your wishes if they do not know what they are.
You should give copies of your advance directives to your health care agent, your medical professionals, and your close loved ones. You should store some extra copies in a secure place that trusted loved ones have access to.
Update your advance directives.
After you have completed your advance directives, you should review them from time to time. This will help to ensure that they continue to reflect your treatment wishes. A good policy is to review your documents every few years at least. You may need to update your choices even sooner when major life events occur.
For instance, if you have gone through a divorce with your health care agent, you may wish to choose a new agent. After a long-distance relocation, you may need to choose a health care agent who is located closer to you. Further, a change in diagnosis or advances in medical technology could make you rethink the choices in your health care directive and living will.
Whatever the reason, you can make unlimited updates to your health care directive and living will at no extra charge for a full year if you purchase it through FindLaw.
You May Want to Speak With a Lawyer if:
- Your family disagrees with your medical choices
- You don’t know who to appoint as your agent
- You have questions about life prolonging measures
- You want legal review of your completed document
Ready to get started on Your South Carolina healthcare directive & living will? It’s free to start.Create My Form
South Carolina Health Care Directive and Living Will FAQs
No. Wills and living wills have confusingly similar names, but they have very different legal purposes.
A last will and testament (a “will”) is the primary estate planning document. You can use a will to describe how you would like your assets to be distributed after your death. If you have minor children, your will can list guardians for them just in case you were to pass away before they become adults.
A living will is a document you can use to make health care choices in advance of a terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. You cannot use a living will to provide for the distribution of your assets after your death. FindLaw calls this document your “health care directive and living will.”
It’s a good idea to have both a living will and a will in your estate plan. Your living will covers medical issues during your lifetime. But your will describes who will receive your assets after your death.
No, you are under no obligation to create any advance directives. It’s purely voluntary and will depend on your preferences and individual circumstances.
Your insurance company and health care providers are not permitted to require a health care directive and living will as a condition of treatment or insurance coverage.
It’s wise to sign a health care directive and living will if you have an opinion on life-prolonging treatments. These include ventilators, dialysis, feeding tubes, and others. You can make choices about these procedures through your health care directive and living will. Your medical professionals will follow your health care directive and living will’s instructions if you become unable to give informed consent on your treatment due to a terminal condition or permanent unconsciousness.
Yes. To create a valid health care directive and living will in South Carolina, you must sign it in front of a notary public and two witnesses.
Generally speaking, your witnesses must be individuals who are not involved in your health care and who do not stand to benefit financially from your death. These restrictions help to shield declarants from conflicts of interest and fraud. The signing requirements for South Carolina health care directives and living wills are covered in more detail in the steps above.
Yes, your doctors have a legal duty to honor the wishes you expressed in your health care directive and living will.
If your doctors refuse to carry out the terms of your advance directives, they are legally required to make reasonable efforts to transfer you to another physician. Failure to do this qualifies as unprofessional conduct under South Carolina law.
The instructions in your health care directive and living will do not become effective just because you are hospitalized or going through a medical emergency. South Carolina law contains strict provisions that only allow the withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures under specific conditions.
Under section 30 of the Death With Dignity Act, medical providers can only withdraw or withhold a life-sustaining procedure in accordance with your health care directive and living will in the event of:
- A terminal condition
- Permanent unconsciousness
A terminal condition is an incurable medical condition. It could cause death within a short period of time if doctors do not administer life-prolonging procedures. This diagnosis must be made by the attending physician and another physician to a reasonable degree of medical certainty before they can withdraw life-prolonging procedures.
Permanent unconsciousness means an irreversible condition or persistent vegetative state where there is no cognitive functioning. The attending physician and another physician must agree on this diagnosis. Further, doctors in South Carolina can only make the determination of permanent unconsciousness after at least 90 days of consecutive unconsciousness. The only exception to this would be if there was massive brain damage that doctors can detect through neurodiagnostic studies or inspection.
To summarize, your health care directive and living will only becomes operative if you are suffering from a life-ending medical diagnosis of either a terminal condition or permanent unconsciousness.
Under South Carolina law, there are a few methods for revoking a health care directive and living will:
- Tear up, deface, obliterate, or otherwise physically destroy your document. You need to inform your attending physician of your revocation in order for it to become legally valid.
- Make a verbal statement of your intent to revoke. You must communicate this revocation to your attending physician.
- Sign and date a written revocation.
- Create a new health care directive and living will.
If you are unable to communicate your verbal revocation to your physician, somebody else can inform the physician of it. But this is only permitted under certain circumstances:
- The other individual must have been present when you made the oral revocation
- The physician must have received notification of this revocation within a reasonable time
- Your attending physician cannot confirm this revocation with you due to your deteriorated condition
If all of the above are true, then somebody else can communicate your oral revocation to your attending physician on your behalf.
Physical cancellation and oral expression are acceptable revocation procedures. But it’s better to create a written record of your health care wishes. A good way to do this is to create a new health care directive and living will.
You can create a new health care directive and living will that revokes your prior one with FindLaw’s guided process. It takes less than an hour, and you can complete the process from anywhere.
After you revoke your advance directives or create new ones, you should tell your health care agent, loved ones, and physicians. If you are hospitalized, you should inform your attending physician of the changes as soon as possible. Your revocation will not be effective until you have informed them of it.
Complex Family Situation? Need Additional Guidance?
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