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:
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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