Hand of a shirt-wearing, seated man writes on printed Din A4 pages.

The Living Will

The living will is inten­ded for the event that you can no lon­ger make a decis­i­on about the type of medi­cal tre­at­ment you want. This can be age-rela­ted, e.g. B. due to demen­tia or Alz­hei­mer’s or due to an acci­dent after which you are in a coma. 

Ever­yo­ne knows that the­se situa­tions can ari­se, but only about ¼ of the adult popu­la­ti­on has writ­ten an advan­ce direc­ti­ve. Do you belong? If “no”, address the issue now, becau­se the situa­ti­on can ari­se regard­less of age. 

One of the most important reasons for making a living will is that you should be self-deter­mi­ned to the last. Don’t let others make a decis­i­on that you might not have made yours­elf. And take away the bur­den of making decis­i­ons from others, e.g. your child­ren, who are often over­whel­med in the­se situations.

Doc­tors and nur­ses must be able to deter­mi­ne from the living will what type and scope of tre­at­ment and care you want. The Fede­ral Court of Jus­ti­ce (BGH) has made some very detail­ed decis­i­ons on the type and con­tent of living wills. On the one hand, the situa­tions must be spe­ci­fi­cal­ly descri­bed in which a named tre­at­ment is to take place and the medi­cal mea­su­res that you want or do not want must be spe­ci­fi­cal­ly described. 

While the descrip­ti­on of the situa­tions can still be pre­sen­ted “rela­tively” easi­ly, it beco­mes more dif­fi­cult when describ­ing the spe­ci­fic mea­su­res. In any case, it is not enough just to decree that you do not want life-sus­tai­ning mea­su­res. Also, the request is not enough to enable a digni­fied death if it is fore­seeable that heal­ing is no lon­ger pos­si­ble. With orders of this kind, it is not clear whe­ther you want arti­fi­ci­al nut­ri­ti­on or not, for exam­p­le. They are the­r­e­fo­re inef­fec­ti­ve, with the result that you recei­ve arti­fi­ci­al nut­ri­ti­on even though you did not want this.

Arm attached to medical device, with gloved nurse in red attire attached.

Alt­hough the BGH sta­tes that the requi­re­ments for a living will must not be exag­ge­ra­ted, the­re are a num­ber of important are­as on which a spe­ci­fic decis­i­on should be made. The­se are:

  • pain and sym­ptom manage­ment; For exam­p­le, would you like to be given mor­phi­ne to reli­e­ve pain, even though it may shor­ten your life?
  • arti­fi­ci­al fee­ding and ven­ti­la­ti­on; a spe­ci­fic defi­ni­ti­on should also be made for this
  • revi­val; do you want this or not
  • dia­ly­sis, blood trans­fu­si­on, anti­bio­tics; do you want such tre­at­ment or assignment?
  • life sup­port mea­su­res; Here it is fun­da­men­tal to deter­mi­ne whe­ther you want life-sus­tai­ning mea­su­res or not. This can hap­pen depen­ding on the situa­ti­on, i.e. in the case of an incura­ble dise­a­se whe­re the­re is no pro­s­pect of suc­cessful the­ra­py, you can do wit­hout, in other cases you can deci­de to do so.
  • Deter­mi­ne the loca­ti­on of your tre­at­ment and deci­de whe­ther you want to be cared for in the hospital/hospice or at home.
  • Appoint an aut­ho­ri­zed repre­sen­ta­ti­ve. This is par­ti­cu­lar­ly important becau­se you need someone who will ensu­re that your wis­hes from the living will are actual­ly imple­men­ted. Remem­ber: the advan­ce direc­ti­ve is for when you are unable to act yours­elf. So you also wri­te a power of att­or­ney and a care direc­ti­ve (see my legal tip).

As you can see, the sub­ject is com­plex and error-pro­ne. Forms offe­red on the Inter­net are often out­da­ted and lack the neces­sa­ry expl­ana­ti­on and individuality. 

So if you want to draw up a living will, take pro­fes­sio­nal advice. You deci­de whe­ther you want a made-to-mea­su­re suit or ready-to-wear. 

I look for­ward to a call to make an appointment.

Hans-Peter Rien
Lawy­er — media­tor — cert. Exe­cu­tor (AGT)
Fer­di­nand-Maria-Stra­ße 30
80639 Munich
Pho­ne: +49 (0) 89 / 129 73 86


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