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Missouri Living Wills Laws

Health care directives, commonly referred to as "living wills," are not actually wills but legally binding documents that list the principal's medical and end-of-life preferences should they become unable to communicate. Living wills differ from durable powers of attorney in that they don't necessarily designate a caretaker. However, an individual with the power of attorney (for health care) is obligated to follow the wishes listed in the principal's living will.

Under Missouri living will laws, the legal requirements include the following:

  • Principal must be a competent person
  • The living will must be in writing
  • It must be signed by the principal (the person to whom the living will applies)
  • It must be dated
  • If not signed "wholly" in the principal's handwriting, it must be witnessed by two adults
  • Becomes active only when the principal's condition is terminal or he or she is unable to make such decisions
  • Living will has no effect when principal is pregnant

The following chart summarizes the main provisions of Missouri's living will laws. See FindLaw's Living Will Basics section to learn more.

Code Section 459.010, et seq. Declaration; Life Support
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Any medical procedure or intervention which would serve only to prolong artificially the dying process where death will occur within a short time whether or not such procedure or intervention is utilized. Does not include medication or procedure to provide comfort care or alleviate pain or any procedure to provide nutrition or hydration
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will (1) Competent person; (2) in writing; (3) signed by declarant; (4) dated; (5) if not wholly in declarant's handwriting, signed in presence of 2 adult witnesses (sample form §459.015(3)); (6) operative only when declarant's condition is determined to be terminal or declarant is unable to make treatment decisions; (7) declaration shall have no effect during course of declarant's pregnancy
Revocation of Living Will Revocable at any time in any manner declarant is able to communicate intent to revoke, without regard for mental or physical condition. Directions of declarant shall at all times supersede declaration
Validity from State-to-State -
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Physician must take all reasonable steps to effect the transfer of a declarant
Immunity for Attending Physician No criminal, civil, or professional liability for acting in good faith pursuant to usual and customary medical standards who withholds or withdraws death-prolonging procedures from patient pursuant to a declaration

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri living wills attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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