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Washington Living Wills Laws

Living wills are technically not wills, but legal documents that allow an individual to detail his or her end-of-life preferences. For example, someone who becomes brain dead may be removed from life support if that wish is expressed in a living will. In Washington, as in other states, living will laws allow individuals to forego artificial life support as directed by an individual named in a durable power of attorney.

The basic provisions of Washington living will laws are detailed below. See FindLaw's Living Wills section for additional articles and resources.

Code Section 70.122.010, et seq. Natural Death Act
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Withdrawal or withholding of any medical or surgical intervention which utilizes mechanical or other artificial means including artificially provided nutrition and hydration to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital function which would serve only to artificially prolong life. Shall not include administration of medication to alleviate pain
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will (1) Any adult; (2) signed by declarant; (3) presence of 2 witnesses; (4) suggested form: §70.122.030. Witnesses must not be related to declarer.
Revocation of Living Will Revocable at any time without regard to declarer's mental state or competency by defacing or destroying document; written revocation signed and dated and communicated to attending physician; oral revocation to physician by declarant or one acting on behalf of declarant
Validity from State-to-State Valid to the extent permitted by Washington law and federal constitution law
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Attending physician must inform patient or agent of any policy that would preclude the honoring of patient's directive. If patient chooses to retain that physician, a written plan is filed showing physician's intended actions should directive become operative.
Immunity for Attending Physician No civil, criminal, or professional liability if acting in good faith unless otherwise negligent

Note: State laws are constantly changing through the enactment of new legislation, decisions from higher courts, and other means -- contact a Washington estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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