Some of the most important decisions of our lives often come when we are least able to communicate, such as the decision to either continue with life support or allow the natural process of dying after a catastrophic injury or illness. Thankfully, we can state our health care and end-of-life preferences in writing -- while we are lucid -- in a living will (also called a "health care directive"). It's technically not a will, but rather a legally binding document to which caregivers and health care agents may refer if the patient is unable to provide consent. State living will laws regulate what is required for a valid living will, and the limits of what an individual may request.
Washington, D.C. Living Will Laws at a Glance
The main provisions of Washington, D.C.'s living will law are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Living Wills Basics section for more articles.
||7-621, et seq. Natural Death Act
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts
||Any medical procedure or intervention which would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process and where death will occur whether or not such procedures are utilized; does not include medication or any medical procedure necessary to alleviate pain or provide comfort care
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will
||(1) 18 yrs.; (2) in writing; (3) dated; (4) signed; (5) in presence of 2 or more witnesses over 18; (6) declaration should be in substantially the statutory form of §6-2422
|Revocation of Living Will
||Revocable at any time by declarant without regard to declarant's mental state by (1) destruction of documents; (2) written revocation signed and dated; (3) verbal expression of intent to revoke in presence of an 18 year old witness; desires of qualified patient at all times supersede the effect of the declaration
|Validity from State-to-State
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Living Will
||Physician must effect a transfer and failure to do so shall constitute unprofessional conduct
|Immunity for Attending Physician
||No civil, criminal, professional liability for physician who acts in good faith pursuant to reasonable medical standard and to a declaration made
Note: State laws may change at any time through the enactment of newly signed legislation or voter-approved ballot initiatives, or through other means. You may want to contact a District of Columbia Health Care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
District of Columbia Living Wills Law: Related Resources