Since we don't always have the capacity to provide consent for medical procedures toward the end of our lives, particularly in the case of dementia, living wills (also called "health care directives") allow us to state our wishes while we're younger. A living will is a legally binding document that states whether we want to be kept alive through artificial means, whether we want our remains to be donated to science, and other considerations. An individual named in a durable power of attorney is required to follow the directives outlined in a living will (if it exists).
New Hampshire Living Will Laws at a Glance
The main provisions of New Hampshire's living will law are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Living Wills Basics section for more articles.
||137-H:1 et seq. Living Wills
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts
||Qualified patient may instruct physician not to use life-sustaining procedures in the event the person is in a terminal condition or is permanently unconscious. "Life-sustaining procedures" means any medical procedure or intervention which utilizes mechanical or artificial means to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital function which would only serve to artificially postpone the moment of death where in the written judgement of the attending and consulting physician, the patient is in a terminal condition or permanently unconscious; does not include medication, sustenance, or performance of any medical procedure to alleviate pain or provide comfort. There must be a clear expression of one's intent to withdraw or withhold artificial nutrition and hydration.
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will
||(1) Person of sound mind, 18 yrs. or older; (2) document signed voluntarily by declarant (3) 2 subscribing witnesses not a spouse or heir at law; (4) upon request, physician shall made document part of medical record; (5) effective if person is permanently incapable of participating in decisions about his care; (6) suggested form §137-H:3; (7) not permitted when physician has knowledge that patient is pregnant
|Revocation of Living Will
||Revocable by (1) destroying document; (2) oral or written revocation before 2 witnesses. Revocation effective upon communication to attending physician
|Validity from State-to-State
||Documents executed in another state are enforceable if in compliance with the law of that state or jurisdiction; foreign living wills are restricted by, and must be in compliance with laws and requirements of New Hampshire
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney
||Physician unwilling or unable to comply shall notify and inform the patient and/or patient's family. Patient or his family may then request transfer to another physician. Physician shall make necessary arrangements without delay to effect transfer to chosen physician
|Immunity for Attending Physician
||Physician or health care professional is immune from civil or criminal liability for good faith actions in keeping with reasonable medical standards pursuant to the living will and in accordance with New Hampshire Law
Note: State laws are constantly changing, usually through the enactment of newly signed legislation but occasionally through case law and other means. You should contact a New Hampshire health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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New Hampshire Living Will Laws: Related Resources