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South Dakota Living Wills Laws

A living will is technically not a will, but a legally binding document in which a person declares how he or she would like to be treated in case of a medical emergency. The term refers to a set of written instructions that explain your wishes regarding end-of-life decisions in the event that you are unable to communicate with your doctor. For instance, you may state in your living will that you do not want to be kept alive through artificial respirators.

Living Wills in South Dakota

Under South Dakota Law, any spoken or written decision or instruction about the health care you want in the future is called an "Advance Directive." You can tell your family your wishes, but it is best to put it in writing.

Who Can Make An Advance Directive?

Anyone living in South Dakota who is 18 years of age or older can complete an advance directive. If you are younger than 18 you may also be able to complete an Advance Directive under certain circumstances.

Is a Living Will the Same As a Durable Power of Attorney?

It is different from a durable power of attorney for health care because it does not cover anything besides your wishes for life sustaining treatment.

See FindLaw's Living Wills section for more information.

Code Section 34-12D-1, et seq. Living Wills
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will Any medical procedure or intervention that will serve only to postpone death or maintain person in state of permanent unconsciousness. Does not include comfort care, hygiene and human dignity, oral administration of food and water, or medical procedure to alleviate pain
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts
  1. Competent adult;
  2. Signed by declarant;
  3. Witnessed by two (2) adults;
  4. May be in presence of notary public (suggested form §34-12D.3);
  5. Not operative for pregnant woman unless live birth unlikely to a reasonable degree of medical certainty
Revocation of Living Will Revocable at any time in any manner without regard to declarant's physical or mental condition. Effective upon communication to physician or other health care provider
Validity from State-to-State Document is valid if it meets execution requirements of place where executed, place where declarant was a resident, or requirements of the state of South Dakota
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Unwilling physician must make a reasonable effort to locate and transfer a patient to a physician who will honor the declaration; must continue treatment or care until transfer is effectuated
Immunity for Attending Physician No civil, criminal, or professional liability for giving effect to a declaration

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

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