Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Jargon buster: Living will

A recent case of euthanasia involving a South African brought the issue of a living will to mind.

Johan Strydom, a member of the Fiduciary Institute of South Africa (Fisa) and a sales manager at FNB Trust Services, explained the concept of a living will to me. He said it is essentially a mandate addressed to your family members and doctor regarding prolonging treatment and life support in the event that you are unable to communicate due to severe illness or injury.

A living will typically states that you should not be kept alive by artificial means should your physical or mental condition deteriorate to such an extent that there is no reasonable prospect of recovery, or that you will be incapable of a rational existence.

Remember, though, that a living will cannot currently contain instruction regarding euthanasia, as euthanasia is considered a crime in South Africa.

The living will is not your last will and testament but, like the latter, it needs to be signed in front of two witnesses and dated. It can be drafted by you, as the testator, as it is merely a letter of wishes, but it can also be drafted by a fiduciary practitioner. It is recommended that the document is held by a family member or doctor as they will be involved with the decision-making, rather than with your nominated executor, who becomes involved only once you have passed away.

Everyone has a strong opinion regarding the sensitive issue of being sustained artificially on life support during terminal illness or severe injury where there is no reasonable chance of recovery, but very few people actually make their wishes known or give clear guidelines to their family members on what to do in a situation like this. It is an absolutely terrible thought, but the possibility exists that you one day might have to make a decision on behalf of a loved one regarding the use of life support.

Read more news, blogs, tips and Q&As in our Smart Money section. Post questions on the site for independent and researched information

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Seven years’ radio silence for taxpayer-funded Rhythm FM

Almost R50-million of taxpayers’ money has been invested but the station is yet to broadcast a single show

Q&A Sessions: Zanele Mbuyisa — For the love of people-centred...

She’s worked on one of the biggest class-action cases in South Africa and she’s taken on Uber: Zanele Mbuyisa speaks to Athandiwe Saba about advocating for the underrepresented, getting ‘old’ and transformation in the law fraternity

More top stories

ANC confirms it will oppose Magashule’s court application

The ruling party has briefed senior counsel Wim Trengove to head the team that will contest Magashule’s bid to fight his suspension and oust Ramaphosa instead

Magashule defies suspension order and KZN leaders’ advice that he...

A strategy by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC to control the narrative coming out of former president Zuma’s court appearance for arms deal corruption and fraud was thwarted

Landmark Deadly Air case: 10 000 deaths annually can be...

There is no legal mechanism in place to implement and enforce measures to prevent toxic air pollution in the Highveld

No masks. No Covid. But problems do abound

With no cases of Covid-19, a Zimbabwe informal settlement’s residents are more concerned about making ends meet – and their imminent eviction
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×