Living wills, also called "health care directives," are legally binding documents stating individuals' preferences for medical care in the event that they are unable to provide consent. In addition, living wills also may list end-of-life preferences as well, including tissue donation and preference for hospice care. A living will, for instance, may indicate that you would like to be transferred to hospice care instead of being kept alive through artificial means when situations demand such a decision. Health care providers are obligated to honor a valid living will, although many states allow doctors to opt out if it is against their principles (in these cases, a different doctor will be assigned).
Overview of Arkansas Living Will Laws
The patient or "declarent" (the person to whom the living will pertains) may request the decline of interventions "that will serve only to prolong the dying process." This does not include interventions to alleviate pain or any stoppage of "the normal consumption of food and water" (but feeding tubes may be removed if in accordance with a living will).
Additional provisions of Arkansas living wills law are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Living Wills Basics section for more articles.
|Code Section||20-17-201, et seq.|
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts||Any medical procedure or intervention that will serve only to prolong the dying process or to maintain the patient in a condition of permanent unconsciousness|
|Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will||(1) Sound mind; (2) 18 yrs.; (3) signed by declarant; (4) witnessed by 2 individuals|
|Revocation of Living Will||Revocable at any time, in any manner by the declarant without regard to the declarant's mental/physical condition; effective upon communication to attending physician|
|Validity from State-to-State||A declaration executed in another state in compliance with the laws of that state or Arkansas law is validly executed|
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Living Will||Physician shall as promptly as practicable take all reasonable steps to transfer care to another physician|
|Immunity for Attending Physician||Physician whose actions under this chapter are in accord with reasonable medical standards is not subject to criminal, civil, or professional liability with respect to them|
Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of new legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. Make sure you contact an Arkansas estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Arkansas Living Will Laws: Related Resources
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