In South Carolina, a living will is also known as a Declaration of Desire for a Natural Death. This legal document contains your advance directive, meaning your instructions regarding your medical care if you become incapacitated or seriously ill and cannot communicate your preferences.
A living will comes into action when you are terminal or in a state of permanent unconsciousness and do not want any life-sustaining procedures to be used to prolong your dying under certain conditions:
- When you have a condition certified to be a terminal condition by two physicians who have personally examined me, one of which is your attending physician, and the physicians determine that your death could occur within a reasonably short period of time without the use of life-sustaining procedures, or
- Both physicians certify that you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness and the application of life-sustaining procedures would only prolong your dying process.
In this limited circumstance, you direct that you be permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication, or any medical procedure necessary to provide you with comfort care. In addition, you will spell out your instructions regarding artificial nutrition and hydration. You will direct that
- Artificial nutrition or hydration BE PROVIDED through any medically indicated means, including medically or surgically implanted tubes, or
- Artificial nutrition or hydration NOT BE PROVIDED through any medically indicated means, including medically or surgically implanted tube.
You also have the option of instructing that you do want treatment to ensure your comfort and to relieve pain and suffering and minimal intravenous fluids to avoid discomfort.
You can also appoint someone, an “agent”, to revoke, or enforce, your living will on your behalf. You can appoint one person for revocation and a different person for enforcement.