Maryland Living Wills

Allowing you to make your own healthcare choices

Maryland Living Wills by a Towson & Hagerstown Attorney

A Maryland Living Will lets you choose what your medical treatments will be if you become incapable of making decisions for yourself. As Maryland wills and estates lawyers, we always include a living will in our estate planning packages.

Estate planning involves more than just distributing your assets. You should have all the documents needed for your well-being, including medical and health care preferences.

What is a Maryland living will?

A Maryland living will includes your requests for your healthcare decisions. Healthcare providers will only rely upon it if you cannot make decisions for yourself. It will typically include your preferences for: 

  • End-of-life care;
  • When they should not continue treating you;
  • Whether you would want pain medication;
  • Whether you want to receive food and water through artificial means; and,
  • Your decisions on organ donation.

Some choose that they want extraordinary medical efforts to be taken under all circumstances. Others may state that if it appears they likely will not survive, then they would rather not undergo treatments that might only delay their death.

You can only request that the healthcare professional withhold treatments. You could not use a living will to request they speed up or cause your death, something prohibited by Maryland law.  

Why would you want a living will or advance directive? 

If you don’t have a living will or advance directive, medical professionals might have to keep giving you medical care. While this may extend your life, it may possibly be against your wishes and at great discomfort to both you and your family.

Unfortunately, this is not just something we need only be concerned about when we are older.  Even the young could have an illness or accident that leaves them in a precarious health condition. An otherwise healthy person could have their lives extended for years or decades with a poor quality of life. Meanwhile, your family may not get the closure you would have otherwise wished for them. 

You may also want a living will so your family members will not disagree on how to handle your situation. Some family members feel guilt from the decisions they make for you. Some family members may make others feel guilty. A living will containing your wishes gives your family peace of mind that they only honored your wishes, nothing more. 

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Your healthcare choices on pain medication

While you may want your doctor to stop providing medical care, you may want them to at least continue to provide pain medications. Your living will should include in your medical decisions your wishes for pain medications known.

Organ donation wishes

Your living will can state your desires regarding organ donation. You may already have checked the box on your driver’s license regarding organ donation. A living will can be more detailed on what types of organ donation you prefer. Some may choose to only have eyes donated. Others may want organ donation without limitations. Still others may state that they want whole body donation.

Whole body donation means what most commonly refer to as “donating your body to science.” While you may choose whole body donation for altruistic purposes, many consider it a way of not burdening their family with the cost of a burial or cremation.

Who makes decisions for you with a MD living will?

There is a distinction in Maryland between a living will and another document called a Maryland medical power of attorney. A living will does not appoint anyone in particular to make decisions for you.

A living will merely instructs your family and medical providers with your wishes. A doctor can use the living will without consulting with your family. You can keep control of who makes such decisions for you by appointing someone using a medical power of attorney.

So long as you are able, you can state your wishes to the doctor and overrule anything you may have included in a living will. Similarly, the attorney-in-fact or agent you appoint in your medical power of attorney can make decisions for you. They can both make sure your living will is being interpreted correctly and directly deal with your situation as you would have wished.

When do you want a living will versus a MOLST form?

Only once you are at the end stages of life or other extreme circumstances would you ever want or need to have a MOLST in place. MOLST stands for Medical Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. The Maryland Attorney General developed the MOLST form itself as required by MD Code Health-Gen §5-608.1. A living will addresses almost every situation other than the limited purposes for which you use a MOLST.

A MOLST allows medical processionals to not provide life sustaining treatment such as CPR. Your living will or advance directive could be used to prevent your doctor from providing treatments such as Chemotherapy.  A living will, however, will not be effective to instruct a doctor to not perform CPR or similar if needed.

Certain people may be required to execute a MOLST form due to their entering a nursing home or similar. Further, unlike a Maryland living will, a medical professional must sign a MOLST.

What should you do with your advance directive once it’s created?

You likely want to save your advance directive or living will with your other estate planning documents. You could provide a copy to the person you appointed under your medical power of attorney for their review and use.

Many hospitals and medical professionals will either request a copy of your living will or will keep a copy if you request. If you have ongoing health issues, provide a copy to your primary care physician and other doctors you will probably use in the future.

We provide living wills in Towson & Hagerstown

An estate attorney providing comprehensive Maryland estate planning drafts wills, trusts, and other planning documents for you. We can help you create documents designed to ensure your final wishes are honored and protect the interests of your loved ones.

Your Maryland estate attorney usually provides you with a new living will or advance directive as part of a comprehensive estate plan. The typical documents will include:

  • a Maryland last will and testament  – to distribute your assets to your family upon your death;
  • a Maryland financial power of attorney – to allow the person you appoint to handle all financial, legal, and day-to-day matters for you if you become incapacitated;
  • a medical power of attorney – to allow the person you appoint to handle your medical decisions and related issues; and,
  •  a living will or advance directive – to state and memorialize your wishes for medical decisions.

Your estate lawyer can ensure you have all documents needed and that all documents work together without contradictions.


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