New Jersey Living Wills Laws

Health care directives, more commonly known as "living wills," are legally binding documents stating the signee's preferences for medical and end-of-life care. They come into play when the signee becomes unable to communicate these wishes him or herself, often carried out by someone with a durable power of attorney. New Jersey's living will laws require two witnesses for validation, while physicians who are unwilling to carry out the directives in a living will must transfer the patient to another doctor.

The details of New Jersey living will laws are listed in the table below. See Living Wills: Introduction to learn more.

Code Section 26:2H-53, et seq. Advanced Directives for Health Care
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Decisions to accept or refuse any treatment, service, or procedure used to diagnose, treat, or care for a patient's physical or mental condition including life-sustaining treatment; includes decisions to accept or refuse services of a particular physician or health care provider or a transfer of care; or use of any medical device or procedure, artificially provided fluids and nutrition drugs, surgery, or therapy that uses mechanical or other artificial means to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital bodily function and thereby increase the expected life span of a patient; does not include providing comfort care or to alleviate pain.
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will (1) Competent; (2) adult; (3) signed; (4) dated; (5) in presence of 2 witnesses who shall attest that declarant is of sound mind and free of duress and undue influence or in front of a notary public, attorney, or another person authorized to administer oaths. May be supplemented by video or audio tape recording; (6) directive implemented when determination of lack of decision-making capacity is documented and confirmed by physicians
Revocation of Living Will Revocable by oral or written notification or execution of subsequent directive. Divorce revokes former spouse's designation as the health care representative. Patient's clearly expressed wishes take precedent over any patient's decision or instruction directive
Validity from State-to-State Effective if executed in compliance with New Jersey law or the laws of that state. Effective if executed in a foreign country in compliance with that country's laws or the laws of New Jersey and is not contrary to the public policy of New Jersey
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Physician should act as soon as practicable to effect an appropriate, respectful, and timely transfer of care and to assure that patient is not abandoned or treated disrespectfully
Immunity for Attending Physician No civil, criminal, or professional liability for any physician acting in good faith and pursuant to this act

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

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