The Terminally Ill Patient Law
The Terminally Ill Patient Law deals with terminally ill patients who are diagnosed with an incurable disease at the end of their days. A "Terminally Ill Patient" is defined by the law as a patient who is sick with an incurable disease and whose life expectancy does not exceed six months, even if receiving medical care.
The law requires the medical staff to provide palliative care to terminally ill patients. The law also regulates the rules whereby a person may direct in advance not to receive medical care if they are terminally ill and incompetent, in order to avoid prolonged suffering. The law states the conditions and restrictions to avoid medical care and prohibits actively causing death or assisting in suicide. Any person competent to make decisions, whether ill or healthy, is allowed to provide Advance Medical Directives and/or to execute a Power of Attorney or both, as they choose.
As long as a person is lucid and fully conscious, their wishes take precedence! Advance medical directives or power of attorney appointment will take effect only if the patient becomes incompetent to make decisions.
Power of Attorney for Issuing Directives as to the Medical Care of a Terminally-Ill Patient
For whom is this Power of Attorney intended?
It is intended to be executed by a person who wishes to grant their power of attorney to a Trustee who will be qualified to decide in their place on medical treatment to be provided, or not to be provided if they become terminally ill and incompetent.
This legal procedure allows the Principal to grant powers of attorney to another person, a Trustee, to speak on their behalf when they are unable to express their wishes. The person acting on account of the power of attorney may express the patient’s wishes and decisions concerning receipt of or abstention from medical treatments. A Power of Attorney appointment prevents differences of opinions between family members and the attending staff and prevents the need to appoint a guardian for the patient’s body. A Power of Attorney of this kind applies only to end-of-life medical treatment and does not apply to any issues regarding finances, day-to-day medical matters or other personal affairs.
Advanced Directives as to Future Medical Care Of a Terminally-Ill Patient
For whom is this intended?
Advanced Directives as to Future Medical Care may be attached to a Power of Attorney by a person who wishes to provide advance medical directives, in which they detail their wishes concerning future medical care, if they become terminally ill and incompetent, to avoid medical treatments or to receive any extraordinary life-extending medical treatment.
The person providing advanced medical directives will detail in writing which treatments they wish to avoid and which they wish to receive. For example, a person may direct in advance to terminate periodical medical treatments such as dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation, if these treatments are related to their incurable disease.
Depositing forms at the Central Data Bank of Advance Medical Directives
A Power of Attorney pursuant to the Terminally Ill Patient Law and/or Advance medical directives that are properly filed oblige the medical staff. Therefore it is advisable to have the completed forms deposited at the Central Data Bank of Advance Medical Directives at the Ministry of Health. Forms that are deposited at the Ministry of Health will be accessible through the computer system to caregivers at hospitals.
The Benefits of Executing a Power of Attorney pursuant to the Terminally Ill Patient Law
You control and take care of your future in advance, clearly express your wishes in writing beforehand, and thus your family can know in advance how you would like them to act on your behalf.
A Power of Attorney pursuant to the Terminally Ill Patient Law is part of your advanced legal planning, together with a Durable Power of Attorney. The first express your medical desires if you become terminally ill, while the second enables you to appoint a Trustee to handle your daily medical treatment and “on-going medical issues”, together with financial and other personal matters.
You act to simplify and make it easy for your family to handle future issues and avoid the need for court proceedings, providing you and your family peace of mind.
It allows the Trustee to act independently and effectively according to their discretion or to specific binding guidelines you gave in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I give instructions regarding euthanasia?
The law states the conditions and restrictions to avoid medical care and prohibits actively causing death or assisting in suicide. It is not permitted to stop continuous medical treatment that will cause death. It is permitted to refrain from renewing continuous medical treatment that was stopped unintentionally and not contrary to the law, and it is also permitted not to renew periodic medical treatment. It is forbidden to refrain from giving an incompetent patient food and liquids, palliative care and treatment even if he has expressly requested to do so. It is permitted to do so only once being declared a "terminal patient with a life expectancy of two weeks".
Does executing a Power of Attorney pursuant to the Terminally Ill Patient Law means I’m taking care of my future?
Definitely. Your trustee will act according to the guidelines you have given beforehand and will be authorized to make all decisions on your behalf and apply all decisions when you are terminally ill. This Power of Attorney will make things easier for your family members to take care of you in the future.
Is it possible to revoke or amend the Power of Attorney / Medical Directives in the future?
Yes, it is possible to nullify and amend them at all points in time.
Whom may I appoint as a trustee?
In principle, any person may be appointed. You may appoint your spouse or one of your children as a Trustee and another child as a Substitute Trustee.
May I give guidelines regarding day to day medical treatment?
A Power of Attorney pursuant to the Terminally Ill Patient Law is intended only for medical issues when a person is terminally ill. Therefore, as part of your advanced legal planning for the future, you should execute a Durable Power of Attorney in order to cover daily medical treatment and “on-going medical issues”. As part of the comprehensive service I provide, also this matter will be addressed.