Living Wills and DNR

Living Will Defined: a document which is created by a person to handle those difficult “end of life” decisions such as when to “Pull the Plug” or whether or not to administer food and fluids to a terminally ill person.

“DNR” Defined: a legal order written either in the hospital or on a legal form to respect the wishes of a patient not to undergo CPR or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) if their heart were to stop or they were to stop breathing.

Much of the current law, guidelines, and restrictions presently placed on the creation of a Living Will or DNR came into effect after a well-known and much publicized 2005 Florida case involving Terri Schiavo and which centered on a person’s “Right to Die.”   In that case, from the year of 1990 until 2005, Terri’s husband and her parents argued over whether or not a feeding tube should be used to keep Terri alive. Ultimately the case was decided and the Court ruling clarified three (3) key points regarding Living Wills and DNR laws:

  1. When a person gets married, spouses gain the right to make end-of-life decisions for one-another.
  2. A persons spouse has greater authority over their end of life decisions than their biological parents do.
  3. End of life decisions are best made ahead of time in a properly word and drafted Living Will document.

As a result, individual states, including Arizona, drafted specific language to be included on every Living Will in order to avoid such controversy again.

Therefore, Living Wills are no longer the simple documents which were once scribbled on scraps of paper and signed on the bottom.  Instead they have become much more detailed and complicated.  Today every person (and family) should involve an experienced attorney to assist and explain the process of creating a Living Will so that they can be assured that their Living Will is not only drafted correctly, but that the proper provisions are in place to avoid any confusion in their final moments of life.


As a note, if you do not have a Living will, or you have not had your Living Will revised since 2005, you should contact an attorney experienced in this area of law as soon as possible.  At the Law Office of Brendon R. Rogers, PLLC, Living Wills are personally crafted, signed, and are included with the other important information about healthcare decisions in the Medical Healthcare Power of Attorney.

This office ALWAYS does a FREE consultation regarding Living Wills and DNR to help you understand and determine which decisions are right for you.