Lis and the Single Girl: Living Wills

E-mail Lis

Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

* Scroll to the bottom for disclaimer information

I know what a will is, but what is a “living will” and should I have one?

All single girls need to think about their future, especially when it comes to tough stuff like this. If we're ever faced with the decision of whether to 'pull the plug' on a respirator, we need to let our loved ones know what we want beforehand. Living wills are a way of doing that.

Living wills came into the mainstream in the 1970s when medical advancements allowed doctors to prolong life through the use of respiratory machines. The groundbreaking case of Karen Ann Quinlan, a young woman who collapsed and was placed on life support against her parent's wishes, became the leading case in the fight for patient's rights. Quinlan didn't have a living will directing the doctors not to use life support.

After the Quinlan case, California passed the Natural Death Act, which gave patients the right to refuse medical treatment if in a permanent vegetative state and if they had a living will stating their wishes. Most states soon followed suit.

But living wills can contain more information than just the refusal of resuscitation. Now, living wills can also cover organ donation and tube feeding in the event of a permanent vegetative state. For a living will to take effect a person must be deemed to be in a permanent vegetative state.

Another document to consider is the “durable power of attorney.” This document gives a specific person the right to carry out your wishes. The power of attorney goes into effect when you cannot make your own medical decisions.

Living wills are regulated state to state. Almost all states require two witnesses to the signing of a living will or a notary. Also interesting, many states invalidate a living will if the woman is pregnant. This means if you have a living will saying you don't want to be on life support but you're pregnant, the state won't recognize your wishes.

These are all things to consider when deciding if you need a living will. I know this seems like a morbid topic, but when medical decisions are left to family members who have no direction in what you would want done, it often leads to fights and family strife in an already painful situation. Bottom line — talk to your loved ones about what you want, and think about protecting your final wishes with a living will.

• Have a question for Lis? E-mail her and check back tomorrow for another edition of "Lis and the Single Girl."

• CLICK HERE for yesterday's entry!


• General information about living wills

• Living wills state by state

• Origin of living wills

• Karen Ann Quinlan

• Natural Death Act

* Disclaimer

The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.

• E-mail Lis With Your Legal Questions!

Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.