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Do Oklahoma residents need a living will?

Most Oklahoma hospitals and doctors' offices will ask a patient if they have a living will—even if the appointment is for a simple blood test. A living will, health care power of attorney or medical directive is a very important statement of how you want to be treated and who you want making decisions for you if you can't make them for yourself.

Ideally, an advanced medical directive is drafted and signed while you are healthy. When dealing with a critical illness, clear-headed decisions might be difficult. After a serious accident or injury, it may be too late. If a vegetative state is deemed to be permanent, should medical intervention continue?

If you are incapacitated for any reason, these instructions are a very important part of a doctor's treatment plan. Experts note it also relieves families of the burden of emotional decisions that can have psychological effects on them going forward. A well-defined statement of your own wishes, written down in a legal document, can make your choices clear.

Powers of attorney are often part of estate planning. Choosing someone to handle business affairs if you are unable to do so allows for good management of financial matters. A health care power of attorney gives your chosen agent decision-making authority for medical treatment. A living will usually is included in the health care power of attorney.

Original signed and notarized forms are often kept on file in hospitals, doctors' offices and with your appointed attorney-in-fact. It's a helpful idea to give family members copies for their information to avoid potential difficulties.

Knowledgeable consideration of an individual's specific needs and wishes is important when writing a living will and any type of power of attorney. Handing over such authority, while a valuable precautionary step, involves a great deal of trust and understanding. When making such decisions regarding your future, clear explanations of all aspects in the process are helpful.

Source: Examiner.com, "Living will do you need one" Dianne Tyndall, Feb. 05, 2014

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