A living will is not the same as a will that determines what happens with your assets when you die. A living will tells your medical providers about the types of medical treatments, including life support, that you want when you’re incapacitated and not able to tell your doctors what you want. One of the many things a living will can do for you is avoid a family feud, should you enter a coma, like the tragedy that occurred with Terri Schiavo and her family.
Health care and end-of-life planning documents and terms can be confusing because the names are often used interchangeably. For example, the terms living will, advanced health care directive, and health care power of attorney are often used in the same context. In addition, there are power of attorneys for financial matters, such as paying bills for the incapacitated person.
In Kansas, a living will in the statutes is merely referred to as a “declaration” where a person in writing states his or her wishes for life-sustaining treatment in a terminal condition. The following chart details the main living will laws in Kansas.
||Kansas Statutes Chapter 65: , Article 28: , Sections 101-109: Natural Death Act
|Specific Powers and Life-Prolonging Acts
||A “life-sustaining procedure” is any medical procedure or intervention that would serve only to prolong the dying process and where death will occur whether or not the procedure is utilized. This doesn’t not include any medication or medical procedures necessary to alleviate pain or provide comfort care.
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will
||To create a valid living will in Kansas, the declarant must be at least 18 years old or otherwise legally considered an adult. The living will must be:
- In writing
- Signed by declarant in the presence of two or more adult witnesses that aren’t related to the declarant
- Substantially in the same form as the sample in Kansas Statute Section 65-28, 103
It’s the responsibility of the patient or his or her family members to show the doctor or hospital staff the living will. Prior to notifying the doctor, the living will can’t be followed.
Also, if the patient is pregnant, the living will won’t be considered effective until the baby is born or dies naturally.
|Revocation of Living Will
||Living wills in Kansas are revocable at any time by declarant by:
- Destruction of the document by burning, tearing, defacing, or otherwise indicating intention to cancel
- Written revocation signed and dated by the declarant
- Verbal expression in presence of an adult witness or witnesses who sign and date a written confirmation
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney
||If a doctor won’t follow the patient’s wishes, he or she shall get the patient transferred to another attending physician or facility. Failure to do so constitutes unprofessional conduct.
|Immunity for Attending Physician
||Doctors aren’t subject to any criminal, civil, or professional liability for acting in good faith and pursuant to reasonable medical standards when acting pursuant to a living will health care declaration. A death from following the patient’s heath care wishes to not have certain procedures isn't a suicide, only a natural death.
|Crimes Related to Living Wills
||Hiding or destroying another person’s living will without his or her consent is a Class A misdemeanor. Forging a living will for someone else with the intent to cause withholding of life support contrary to his or her wishes and death is brought about more quickly, is a level 7 person felony subject to 11 to 34 months jail and/or probation.
If you’ve started planning for the end of your life, as uncomfortable as it can be, it may be time to create a living will. You can use online sources to draft your own living will, or you can seek the help of a local, experienced estate planning lawyer who can draft this document for you, as well as any powers of attorney, will, or trust you may also want.
Note: State laws are updated frequently. Please talk to a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these estate planning laws.
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