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South Carolina Living Wills Laws

If someone you love becomes incapacitated and needs medical attention, do you have a plan in place to make the important decisions in his or her life? As hard as it sounds to think about, taking the time to create a living will can provide such a plan. Here are the basics of living wills laws in South Carolina.

Living Wills Laws

Most of us have read about wills in books or seen them as plot points on TV or in movies, but under state law, living wills function a little differently. While a normal will is a plan for a person’s property and possessions after they die, a living will is a legally binding plan for a person’s medical treatment preferences, should they become unable to make those decisions themselves.

South Carolina Living Wills Statutes

The chart below highlights some of South Carolina living wills laws.

Code Section

South Carolina Code of Laws 44-77-10, et seq.: Death with Dignity Act

Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts

Medical procedures or intervention serving only to prolong the dying process; does not include treatment for comfort care or pain alleviation; declarant should indicate whether nutrition and hydration through surgically implanted tubes is desired; if declarant fails to do so, nutrition and hydration necessary for comfort care and pain alleviation will be provided.

Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will

(1) Declaration must set out intent for no life-sustaining procedures; (2) signed; (3) dated; (4) in presence of officer authorized to administer oaths; (5) presence of 2 witnesses; (6) substantially same as §44-77-50; (7) not effective during course of declarant's pregnancy; (8) terminal condition must be certified by 2 examining physicians (permanent unconsciousness must be at least for 90 days; or with high degree of medical certainty and must be given active treatment for at least 6 hrs. following diagnosis before physician can give effect to declaration).

Revocation of Living Will

(1) Destruction of document when communicated to physician; (2) written revocation signed and dated upon communication to physician; oral expression of intent to revoke when communicated to physician; (3) communication of oral revocation may be made by someone present when revocation made, if communicated within reasonable time and declarant is physically or mentally able to confirm or by designee if declarant is incompetent; (4) execution of subsequent declaration

Validity from State-to-State

For patients in terminal condition, document with same intent as this chapter and in compliance with the laws of that state is effective.

If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney

Physician must make a reasonable effort to locate a physician who will effectuate patient's declaration and has a duty to transfer patient to such physician

Immunity for Attending Physician

No criminal or civil liability for acting in good faith and in accordance with the standards of reasonable medical care pursuant to the statute

South Carolina Living Wills Laws: Related Resources

It’s never easy trying to plan for the future illness or death of a loved one. For more articles and resources on this topic, including a sample living will form and a sample living will with designation of a surrogate form, you can visit FindLaw’s living wills section. If you would like legal assistance in setting up a living will, you can contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney.

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