Is a living will enough?

Meredith Mendez

March 30, 2005

NEW ORLEANS -- The legal argument surrounding Terri Schiavo has brought out the public's interest in living wills but lawyers say that document may not be enough to ensure your wishes are carried out in a hospital.

Attorney Adam Lambert says living wills are sometimes ignored and people really need to have a Medical Power of Attorney Document. It can make sure someone is fighting for the patients rights. "It gives one person decision making power and presumably you have spoken to that person at length about your wishes and about what you would like to happen if you were ever in that situation," said Lambert.

In Schiavo's case, the power of attorney automatically went to her husband but her family doesn't agree with how he's handling Schiavo's life and death. If Schiavo had legally given someone the power to make medical decisions, the case would have stayed out of the courts and in the hospice according to Lambert, "If she had given power of attorney to her parents then she would live, if she had given power of attorney to her husband, there probably wouldn't be much of a fight and she would die."

Medical power of attorney forms are readily available on the internet for free and for sale. You can even write out your own document but either way, it must be notarized with two witnesses. However, the Louisiana Secretary of State's website suggests people considering getting a power of attorney document, a will or a living will should consult an attorney.

Copyright 2005, WGNO