At any time, a person age 18 or older is allowed to draw up a living will. This document details the steps the person wishes to be taken if an illness or injury leaves them in terminal condition. This means the person is expected to die soon and there can be no reasonable hope of recovery, or that they have lapsed into a coma or is otherwise not responsive to the environment around them. In a terminal case, only life-sustaining measures such as intravenous nutrition and artificial respiration are keeping someone alive.
Indiana provides a standardized living will form drafted by the legislature. All people must use this living will form as the basis of their document, though they are free to add as many additional instructions and stipulations as they see fit. The basics of the document are:
• That the person signing is of sound mental health and age 18 or older
• That their wishes concern procedures to be followed if a physician declares in writing that they are in a terminal condition
After this, the person must indicate that they choose one of three options in this event:
• They wish for their life to be prolonged as long as possible using intravenous nutrition and artificial respiration
• They do not wish for all such life-sustaining measures to be applied
• They leave all such decisions to someone they have appointed to act on their behalf
The document must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who are 18 years of age or older. Neither of these witnesses can be a parent, child or spouse. People who stand to inherit after someone’s death are also not allowed to be witnesses. Their signature certifies that the person who has created the living will is of sound mental health.
While these are the basics of the form, you may wish to include additional instructions, concerning such issues as:
• Any religious beliefs and wishes you want to have performed if you are in a terminal condition
• Which life-sustaining measures may or may not be continued
• Any treatments you would find too burdensome to consent to
• A set duration for such measures to be continued if you so wish
• Stating whether your organs can be donated to another person, a medical school or another institution
A living will may be revoked at any time. A person of sound mental health may do this by destroying all copies and creating a new legal will, or simply by orally indicating they wish to amend or revoke some of the provisions.
It is recommended that you make sure a living will can easily be consulted by giving a copy to your physician or a family member. Some people may wish to carry a copy of the living will on their person to ensure it can easily be consulted. It is your responsibility to make sure that your physician is informed that you have created a living will.