Living Wills, Healthcare Representative, Combined Documents

Living Will
(Document Concerning Health Care and Withholding or Withdrawal of Life Support Systems)

A “Document Concerning Health Care and Withholding or Withdrawal of Life Support Systems” (often referred to as a “Living Will”) is a document that allows you to choose, among other health care decisions, which life support measures you wish to have administered if your medical situation warrants it. For example, you may choose to accept or reject:

  • CPR;
  • Artificial Respiration;
  • Artificial means of Nutrition & Hydration; and
  • Other life support measures.

Public Act 06-195 made some important revisions to the previous statutory sections concerning advance directives. Those changes, effective October 1, 2006, effect statutory definitions as well as other factors.

PA-06-195 sec. 65, amending C.G.S. 19a-575, reads, in pertinent part, “Any person eighteen years of age or older may execute a document that contains directions as to any aspect of health care, including the withholding or withdrawal of life support systems. Such document shall be signed and dated by the maker with at least two witnesses . . .”. (emphasis added).

Under PA-06-195 sec. 70, amending C.G.S. 19a-579, a Living Will becomes operative when:

  1. The document is given to the attending physician, and;
  2. The maker (you) is determined by the attending physician to be incapacitated.

PA-06-195 sec. 71, amending C.G.S. 19a-579a, provides that:

  • A Living Will may be revoked at any time and in any manner by the maker (you), without regard for the maker’s mental or physical condition.
  • Your attending physician shall make your revocation part of your medical record.

In the wake of the Terri Schiavo case (in which a Florida woman who had not executed a Living Will was sustained on life support systems until the Courts determined what Schiavo’s wishes would have been regarding life-prolonging procedures), the need for a Living Will can not be over-emphasized.

Health Care Representative

Previously, the statutes allowed you to designate a Health Care “Agent” (a person over the age of 18) to make medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated and to enforce the instructions in your Living Will. Public Act 06-195, effective October 1, 2006, changed the title of this important role to Health Care “Representative.”

The new language, set forth in PA-06-195, sec. 67, amending C.G.S. 19a-576(a) reads, “Any person eighteen years of age or older may appoint a health care representative by executing a document in accordance with section 19a-575a, as amended by this act, or section 19a-577, as amended by this act, signed and dated by such person in the presence of two adult witnesses who shall also sign the document. The person appointed as representative shall not act as witness to the execution of such document or sign such document.”

PA-06-195, Sec. 66(b-e), amending C.G.S. Section 19a-575a, requires that:

  • An appointment of a health care representative may only be revoked by the maker of the original document (you). Such revocation must be in writing and must be signed by the maker (you) and two witnesses. [Except as provided in C.G.S. section 19a-579b, which states that, “The appointment of the principal’s spouse as health care representative shall be revoked upon the divorce or legal separation of the principal and spouse or upon the annulment or dissolution of their marriage, unless the principal specifies otherwise.”]
  • The revocation of an appointment of a health care representative shall be made part of your medical record by your attending physician or other health care provider.

It should also be noted that:

  • The revocation of an appointment of health care representative does not, of itself, revoke your Living Will.

Under PA-06-195 sec. 70, amending C.G.S. 19a-579, an Appointment of a Health Care Representative becomes operative when:

  1. The document is given to the attending physician, and;
  2. The maker (you) is determined by the attending physician to be incapacitated.

At any time after the appointment of a health care representative, the attending physician shall disclose such determination of incapacity, in writing, upon the request of the person named as the health care representative.

Combined Documents

PA-06-195, Sec. 66(a), amending C.G.S. Section 19a-575a, reads, in pertinent part, “Any person eighteen years of age or older may execute a document that contains health care instructions, the appointment of a health care representative, the designation of a conservator of the person for future incapacity and a document of anatomical gift. Any such document shall be signed and dated by the maker with at least two witnesses…”.

  • Appointment of a Health Care Representative
  • Designation of a Conservator of the Person for Future Incapacity
  • Document of Anatomical Gift

This means that you have the option of executing one comprehensive document including the aforementioned instructions and designations, rather than multiple documents. A licensed attorney at the Law Offices of  Gryk & Frolich LLC in Manchester, Connecticut can assist you in determining which documents best meet your individual needs and circumstances.

Please click on the links below to explore other Probate areas of interest to you:

Wills, Testamentary Trusts & Conservatorships

Power of Attorney

Adoption, Name Changes & Guardianships 

 

The information presented here is only meant to offer a brief guide to the law in Connecticut. It is not and should not be construed as legal advice. Questions about your individual circumstances should be discussed with a licensed attorney. A Connecticut lawyer at the Law Offices of Gryk & Frolich LLC can assist you with your advance directives and healthcare documents.