We get lots of questions from people about living wills – such as do they need one, is the one they have current, and how would their existing living will be interpreted under Georgia law.

Current Georgia statutes include an Advance Directive for Health Care – which combines the old “living will” and “durable power of attorney for health care” decisions into one document.

We find that many people are confused by the language of the Georgia living will, especially as it relates to the choices about withholding nourishment and/or hydration.  Some people want neither nourishment nor hydration, some want both nourishment and hydration but no other life-sustaining procedures, and some want hydration but not nourishment.  These are very important decisions that you need to make for yourself in consultation with your legal advisor.

Very often, husbands and wives make different choices on their living wills/advance directives, and that is fine.  The important thing is for you to make an informed choice, and properly complete your Georgia  forms.  These are individual documents, not a “husband and wife” document.  Your decisions should be your own, and not someone else’s choice for you.   The living will, or advance directive, records your choice for your family members, loved ones, and for your medical treatment providers.

In recent years, we have seen a large increase in young singles and young couples preparing advance directives.  This is entirely appropriate, as tragedy or illness can strike at any age.  Sometimes people make different choices at different stages of their lives, depending on their health, family responsibilities, and changing perspective.

Who should be the witnesses to a living will or advance directive?  Not someone related to you by blood or marriage, someone who would receive something under your will, or who would inherit something from you under Georgia law if you did not have a will.  Also, there are restrictions about certain physicians or their employees, those who would have a claim against your estate, or someone that is directly financially responsible for your medical care acting as a witness.  These make sense if you think about it!

If you want to make an appointment to prepare a new advance directive, review your living will, durable power of attorney for health care, or discuss your current documents with an attorney at Hindson & Melton LLC, call Karen at 770-939-3936 or Joy at 770-512-8383.