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Tennessee Living Wills Laws

A living will isn't actually a "will" in the traditional sense, but rather a legally binding document detailing the signee's personal preferences for end-of-life (and after death) preferences. For instance, a living will may state that the signee does not want to be kept alive through artificial respiration, or that she would like her body cremated. State laws often enumerate specific powers allowed in a living will, the legal requirements for its validity, and the rules for revocation.

For instance, Tennessee's Right to Natural Death Act states that any medical procedure used to diagnose or treat an illness or injury may be denied through a living will. Doctors attending to dying patients are not held liable if acting in accordance with a living will. But even if the patient generally lacks legal capacity, he or she may revoke the will at any time if clearly communicated to the doctor.

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

Code Section 32-11-101, et seq. Right to Natural Death Act
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Any procedure, treatment to diagnose, assess, or treat a disease, illness, or injury. Includes surgery, drugs, transfusions, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, CPR, artificial nourishment, hydration or other nutrients, radiation. Death by starvation or dehydration allowed only if specifically directed by using statutory phrase.
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will (1) Competent adult; (2) signed; (3) in presence of 2 witnesses; (4) substantially in form of §32-11-105. Witnesses must not be related to declarant.
Revocation of Living Will Revocable at any time by declarant regardless of mental state if effectively communicated to the physician by written revocation dated and signed or oral statement made to physician
Validity from State-to-State Effective if in compliance with Tennessee law or the law of the state of declarant's residence
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Unwilling physician must make every reasonable effort to assist in a transfer.
Immunity for Attending Physician No civil, criminal, or professional liability if acting in accord with reasonable medical standards

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

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