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Vermont Living Wills Laws

A living will is a legally binding document that expresses an individual's end-of-life decisions, such as whether that person wants to be kept alive through artificial life-support apparatus. While not technically a will, states recognize the authority of living wills. Vermont's living wills law explicitly states that an individual suffering from a terminal condition who is no longer able to make such lucid decisions may forego any "death-delaying procedure" if he or she has expressed this in a living will.

Living Wills in Vermont

Under Vermont law, any 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 Vermont 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.

Is There an Advance Directive Form I Can Use?

You can use an Advance Directive form published by the state, but you are not required to do so. Other Advance Directive forms are valid as long as they meet state law requirements, including signing and witnessing rules. You can find the long form (or a shorter version) on the website of the Vermont Ethics Network.

The main elements of Vermont living will laws are highlighted in the following table. See FindLaw's Living Wills section to learn more.

Code Section Tit. 18 §§5251, et seq. Terminal Care Document
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will
  1. 18 yrs.;
  2. Be of sound mind;
  3. In presence of two (2) or more witnesses.
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts

Any medical procedure or intervention utilizing mechanical or other artificial means to sustain, restore, supplant a vital function serving only to postpone the moment of death and where patient is in a terminal state according to judgment of physician.

Revocation of Living Will Revocable only orally in presence of two (2) or more witnesses or by destroying the document
Validity from State-to-State N/A
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Unwilling physician must actively assist in selecting another physician willing to honor patient's directive.
Immunity for Attending Physician No civil or criminal liability for physician acting pursuant to the terminal care document

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

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Vermont Living Wills Laws: Related Resources

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