Who should I never seek advice from?

The 3 most important rules for living wills

Make provisions with the living will

Unfortunately, this situation can catch up with us all: slowly, through a chronic illness. Or quickly, after an accident. Suddenly we can no longer express our wishes and needs. Now we can no longer intervene. That chance is over.

In Germany you have the option of drawing up an advance directive. Here you write what should happen to you when certain events occur. Should an operation be carried out if it would lengthen life but not improve quality? How do you feel about life-prolonging measures in certain situations? None of these questions that we like to ask ourselves. But at some point it may be too late for that.

The three basic rules of living wills

There are dozens of good guides or templates for living wills. We recommend the publication of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection or our own free brochure on living wills. However, good publications agree on the essential points. Here you can read the three most important rules for writing an advance directive:

1. Be as specific as possible

If the living will says: "If I am terminally ill and will probably no longer get well, then I don't want to hang on to any hoses", then it is probably clear to everyone what that means. However, this formulation is not specific enough for the living will document. A doctor could not and should not implement the implicit wish. The life support measures would continue.

It is important that what should be done specifically by doctors and nurses is listed for different situations. The Federal Ministry of Justice advises that “the author should state precisely whether the treatment requests specified in the living will (e.g. the implementation or rejection of certain measures such as artificial nutrition and hydration) should apply in all specifically described treatment situations or whether they should also apply to different situations different treatment requests should be determined. "

So more care is required at this point. That may seem annoying, it may even prevent one or the other from devoting themselves to this important topic. But keep in mind that it's aboutYour life goes. As pathetic as that sounds - when you write an advance directive, it is about your self-determination. It is very likely that the living will will never be used. That would be great. But if it does become necessary, then it should also reproduce what you explicitly want. Once the situation has arisen, you will no longer be able to change the document. The Federal Ministry of Justice goes into more detail on this point and the decision of the Federal Court of Justice of July 6, 2016 on its website.

2. Where should I keep my living will?

There is no general answer to this question. In practice, however, it is of fundamental importance: if something happens, it must be known as quickly as possible that there is an advance directive. In addition, it must be ensured that the document arrives at the hospital immediately. On the other hand, nobody would like to share the very personal content of the living will with too many strangers.

Between these two interests, you mustYour center Find. There are various options for this. A very practical approach has proven itself: Many people copy the living will, sign all copies in the original and store them in several places - for example in their own folder for important documents, with the children, at the family doctor, perhaps in the local clinic. You can also have your living will secured for a fee in a virtual location such as the “central pension register” of the Federal Chamber of Notaries. This register can be accessed by clinics in an emergency.

We at the social association recommend another approach: In our free brochure on living wills you have a card on the back that can be removed. This card fits in every wallet. As with an emergency card, you can enter all the important information about the living will here: Where can it be found? Who should be contacted? If something should happen to you, the paramedics, for example, can find everything on a map.

3. Combine your living will with a power of attorney

With a living will, you take an immense step towards self-determination. Should something happen, in the vast majority of cases you will be able to implement exactly what you wanted. But of course, as in many other areas of life, there is no guarantee of it. That is why it makes sense to draw up a power of attorney in addition to the living will.

With your power of attorney, you authorize one or more confidants to make decisions on your behalf. These can also be decisions about life and death. In practice, a health care proxy can be incredibly valuable. For example, if, despite the advance directive, it is not entirely clear what the patient's will looks like in this specific situation. The person named in the power of attorney can then make this decision. Because if there are questions, but there is no power of attorney, the competent local court must appoint a legal guardian. And that supervisor can be a complete stranger.

Further questions about the living will

Of course, there are other important questions that come up when writing an advance directive. Do I have to go to the notary? Where can I get advice? Will the living will become invalid at some point?

A look at our free brochure on living wills will help with all of these points. If you are a representative of an association, a company or another organization from Schleswig-Holstein, you can invite an employee of the social association to a lecture about living wills - free of charge. If you are interested, please contact:

Christian Schultz
Advisor for social policy
Phone: 0431/98 388 - 70
Mail: Sozialpolitik (at) sovd-sh.de

The Social Association Germany helps in social matters. We represent our members up to the social court, among other things in disputes around the topic of pensions and disabilities.

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