Living wills are technically not wills, but legal documents that allow an individual to detail his or her end-of-life preferences. For example, someone who becomes brain dead may be removed from life support if that wish is expressed in a living will. In Washington, as in other states, living will laws allow individuals to forego artificial life support as directed by an individual named in a durable power of attorney.
The basic provisions of Washington living will laws are detailed below. See FindLaw's Living Wills section for additional articles and resources.
|70.122.010, et seq. Natural Death Act
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts
|Withdrawal or withholding of any medical or surgical intervention which utilizes mechanical or other artificial means including artificially provided nutrition and hydration to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital function which would serve only to artificially prolong life. Shall not include administration of medication to alleviate pain
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will
|(1) Any adult; (2) signed by declarant; (3) presence of 2 witnesses; (4) suggested form: §70.122.030. Witnesses must not be related to declarer.
|Revocation of Living Will
|Revocable at any time without regard to declarer's mental state or competency by defacing or destroying document; written revocation signed and dated and communicated to attending physician; oral revocation to physician by declarant or one acting on behalf of declarant
|Validity from State-to-State
|Valid to the extent permitted by Washington law and federal constitution law
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney
|Attending physician must inform patient or agent of any policy that would preclude the honoring of patient's directive. If patient chooses to retain that physician, a written plan is filed showing physician's intended actions should directive become operative.
|Immunity for Attending Physician
|No civil, criminal, or professional liability if acting in good faith unless otherwise negligent
Note: State laws are constantly changing through the enactment of new legislation, decisions from higher courts, and other means -- contact a Washington estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Washington Living Wills Laws: Related Resources