Living Will / Medical Power of Attorney
Controlling Your Future Medical Care
The following Living Will/Medical Power of Attorney was written specifically for followers of the Krishna consciousness Vaishnava faith. In the United States, this particular Living Will has been recognized in several states as a legal medical document and has been upheld by healthcare professionals in various hospitals where devotees of Lord Krishna have presented it during times of illness and prior to surgery.
However, state laws vary and some states require a specific Living Will form be used. Therefore, we advise our readers to inquire from a reliable source, either from a government or medical website online or from a legal attorney in your area, to see if this version of a Living Will/Advance Directive is legally binding in your place of residence. Naturally, this also applies to those readers who live outside of the United States.
If you wish, you can print, for FREE, the Vaishnavas CARE Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney forms, please click on the link below:
What is the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament?
If you are unable to express your health care wishes in the future, hospitals and family can reference your Living Will as a statement of your medical wishes.
Alternatively, a Last Will and Testament is a document used to indicate how you would like your assets divided or children cared for after your death. You cannot specify medical treatment preferences with a Last Will.
Why should I create a Health Care Directive?
Without a Health Care Directive, the burden of making your medical decisions falls on your family members. Creating a personal directive not only gives you control of your medical wishes but it saves your family from making tough treatment choices on your behalf.
Additionally, implementing a Medical Power of Attorney allows you to discuss your treatment wishes with someone you trust prior to any unforeseen medical circumstance so they can make health care decisions in your best interest.
What medical decisions can I make with a Living Will?
Every state has its own limits as to what you are legally permitted to include in your directive. While you may specify instructions for a variety of medical situations and describe your feelings towards quality of life, keep in mind that health care providers can only carry out certain procedures according to your state laws.
If you are terminally ill or injured, you can document which, if any, treatment options you would like to pursue.
Terminally ill or injured means that medical professionals have concluded that you have a condition that cannot be cured and that is expected to result in limited life expectancy.
You can specify whether you would like to receive any form of life support in the event of a medical emergency.
Life support means any life-sustaining procedures done to a patient to restore function to an organ through medical intervention.
Common forms of life support include CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), defibrillators, assisted breathing, dialysis, and artificially administered food and water.
DNR stands for "Do Not Resuscitate", which means you do not wish to receive life support or resuscitation if an organ fails.
You can address which, if any, treatments you would like to receive in the event of permanent unconsciousness, such as a coma or persistent vegetative state.
Permanent unconsciousness is when there is a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the patient can no longer think, feel, knowingly move, or be aware that they are alive, and there is no hope for improvement.
What to do after you fill out your living will?
The following should help guide you as to what to do after you have completed your Living Will/Medical Power of Attorney. We suggest you speak with a legal professional for further guidance, if needed.
1. Make copies of your original Living Will/Advance Directive document. Keep the original document in a safe and accessible place. Tell your family/close friends where you are keeping these documents. It is recommended that you do NOT keep your Living Will in a safe deposit box as others need to be able to have access to it when needed.
2. Talk with your family and close friends. Begin the conversation by asking them if they will speak with you about your end-of-life concerns and decisions. People deal with these issues in a variety of ways and not everyone is comfortable with this subject. If they agree, find a quiet place in which to have this conversation. It should be a place that is free from distractions. Share with them your decisions for treatment if you were faced with a terminal illness or were in a permanent state of unconsciousness due to an accident, for example. Name the person you have chosen to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to speak or make your wishes known. If desired, give a copy of your Living Will to a close relative.
3. Speak with your primary physician. Meet with your primary care physican to tell him/her about your Living Will and end-of-life decisions. Bring a COPY of your Living Will/Advance Directive. (Keep the original for your records. Never give away the original document.) Tell your physician what medical treatment you want or do not want if in a terminal situation. Advise your physician as to who you have chosen to be your healthcare decision maker (Healthcare Power of Attorney). Give your doctor the copy of your Living Will document to keep in your medical records.
4. Give a copy of your Living Will to your healthcare decision maker (Healthcare Power of Attorney). Your Healthcare Power of Attorney should keep a copy of your Living Will in a safe place. If you have chosen an alternate Healthcare Power of Attorney, he/she should receive a copy as well.
5. If you have a personal attorney, give him/her a copy of your Living Will. It is recommended that your lawyer keep a copy of this document in your file.
If you live in the United States...
Aside from printing out and completing the Vaishnavas CARE Living Will/Advance Directive, you may want to also visit this outside link below that has each state’s approved Living Will/Advance Directive in a FREE PRINTABLE VERSION. You may want to consider filling out a “Vaishnava” Living Will as well as your State-Approved Living Will to be sure your physician/hospital will accept one or both of these documents. The link for you to choose your state-approved Living Will is: