Tennessee Living Wills

What is a living will?

A living will is a legal document that allows a competent person to accept, refuse, stop, or otherwise decide about medical care; especially treatment that keeps him or her alive when the person’s condition is terminal. Medical care means any procedure for diagnosis or treatment. This may be surgery, drugs, transfusions, mechanical breathing, dialysis, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), artificial or forced feeding and radiation therapy. The statute does not permit the withholding of normal food or fluids unless expressly authorized in your living will. A living will goes into effect only when you become incapacitated and remains in effect only as long as you cannot tell your doctor about your wishes. You may revoke your living will any time by telling your doctor or by signing a written revocation. Along with your healthcare power of attorney, your living will must be documented in your personal medical record. You should also tell your family that you have a living will.

What are some of the laws around living wills in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Right to Natural Death Act was signed into law in 1985. It recognizes your rights as a competent adult to decide about your medical care. This law says that every person has the basic and natural right to die with as much dignity as possible. This law gives you a way – through a living will – to control heroic measures and treatments that keep you alive when you are terminally ill if you are not able to tell your doctor about your wishes.