A living will is a legal document that allows patients to provide healthcare providers with an outline of their wishes in the event they become incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes themselves. The document often contains a provision for a person to be designated as healthcare power of attorney. This individual can speak on the patient’s behalf if he or she cannot do so.

Kentucky has specific living will laws as outlined in the Kentucky Living Will Directive Act. These are some of the highlights of this important law.

Legal requirements for a living will to be valid

In Kentucky, a valid living will must have four components:

  • The creator of the will (the testator) is an adult with testamentary capacity.
  • The living will is created in writing and is appropriately signed and dated.
  • The signing of the will must be witnessed by two or more unrelated adults in the presence of each other and the will creator (or acknowledged by a notary).
  • The document is in essentially the same form as outlined in Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 311.625.

Revoking a living will

Living wills are revocable in the same way that traditional wills are. Methods of revocation include:

  • A written declaration of revocation, signed and dated by the testator
  • An oral statement of an intent to revoke in the presence of at least two adults, one being a healthcare provider
  • Destruction of the existing living will with the intent to revoke it

Revocation is effective immediately. This action overrides any previous written healthcare directives.

It’s worth noting that healthcare providers may follow living wills or advance directives created outside of Kentucky, so long as those directives are consistent with generally accepted medical practices. If a doctor cannot follow the instructions of the living will, he or she must inform the patient and the family, and cannot impede transferring the patient to a healthcare facility or doctor who can comply with the instructions.

To learn more about living will laws in Kentucky, consult a trusted healthcare law attorney with Hammer DeFrank Wessels, PLLC.