Living wills are legal documents that inform your medical providers of your wishes, should you become unable to communicate your health care preferences. They frequently contain a provision for a health care power of attorney, a person who will speak on your behalf when you are unable to do so. For more on this, see the Kentucky Durable Power of Attorney Laws article.
Kentucky, like other states, has enacted laws to regulate the creation of living wills and how they are treated by medical professionals in the state. The following table outlines the main living will laws in Kentucky.
||Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 311, Sections .621 to .643 – Kentucky Living Will Directive Act
|Specific Powers in Living Will and Life-Prolonging Acts
||A living will can provide what a person wants, such as to withhold from any medical procedure, treatment, or intervention which utilizes mechanical or other artificial means to sustain prolong, restore, or supplement a spontaneous vital function or when administered would only prolong the dying process. This doesn’t include medication or procedures to alleviate pain.
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will
||In Kentucky, the legal requirements to make a living will are:
- The creator of the living will is an adult with decisional capacity
- The living will is in writing, signed, and dated
- It’s either witnessed by two or more unrelated adults in the presence of the living will creator and in the presence of each other OR acknowledged before a notary
- The document is in substantially the same form as the statutory living will in Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 311.625
|Revocation of Living Will
||Living wills, like traditional wills, are revocable by:
- Written revocation declaration signed and dated by the creator of the living will
- Oral statement of intent to revoke in presence of two adults, one of which is a health care provider
- Destruction of the living will with the intent to revoke
- Effective immediately for attending physician once revocation received
- Oral statement by grantor with decisional capacity to revoke overrides previous written health care directive
|Validity of Living Wills from Other States
||Health care providers aren’t restricted from following living wills or directives made outside Kentucky law if they’re consistent with accepted medical practice, this could include directives made validly in other states.
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney
||If a doctor is unable to follow the instructions of a living will, he or she must immediately inform the patient and family or guardian and won’t impede with transferring to a complying doctor or health care facility. The patient's medical records and information will be supplied to the receiving doctor or facility.
|Immunity for Attending Physician
||Attending doctors aren’t subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability or deemed to have engaged in unprofessional conduct as a result of withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment in accordance with a directive unless shown by a preponderance of evidence that there was bad faith, like the document was clearly false.
If you want to draft a living will, you can do so on your own, but to ensure the document’s legitimacy in Kentucky, you may wish to consult an experienced Kentucky estate planning lawyer.
Note: Because state laws are constantly frequently, you should verify the laws you’re reading about by conducting your own legal research or contacting an attorney.
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