A Living Will service is now available at Be Well Medical Center exclusively for members. A Living Will, also called a directive to physicians or advance directive, is a legally binding document that states your wishes for end-of-life medical care, in case you become unable to communicate your decisions.
The Be Well Team and our Lawyer & Public Notary, Mrs Kantee Isareenuruk, have listed the most frequently asked questions from our members and the answers.
1. What does the doctor do differently when a patient has a Living Will?
Before following the Living Will instructions, the doctor must first confirm that the patient has a life-limiting medical condition that can no longer be treated effectively. In cases where the patient is conscious and able to communicate, the doctor will ask the patient to reconfirm that they still wish the Living Will directive to be followed.
Whether the patient is conscious or not, a second opinion is always required from another doctor. One or both of the doctors must be a specialist in the type of illness that the patient has.
The treating doctor will then make every effort to inform the patient’s family before discontinuing life-sustaining treatment, in accordance with the patient’s Living Will. To ensure that there is no suffering during this terminal phase, therapies such as sedation and pain-relief will not be stopped.
2. How will a hospital know that an unconscious patient has a Living Will?
Be Well Members are recommended to carry the Be Well membership card with them at all times. On the card we will add a special sticker stating that the patient has a Living Will and that the hospital should contact Be Well for details.
Members should also inform their nearest family members about the living will, as the hospital is likely to contact them first.
Often, the Be Well doctors will already know that the patient is about to be admitted to hospital with an end-of-life situation. In these cases, we will inform the hospital about the living will as well as notify and provide support to the family.
3. Do all hospitals accept this Living Will?
The Living Will document used by Be Well has been drafted in consultation with leading Thai hospitals and our specialized lawyer Mrs Kantee Isareenuruk from Libothai. It should be accepted by all hospitals in Thailand.
Be Well and/or Mrs Kantee Isareenuruk are happy to intervene on behalf of any patient if there is difficulty in getting this Living Will followed.
4. Can this Living Will be used in other countries also?
This document is made according to Thai law. We cannot guarantee that it will be accepted in other countries. We recommend that you make separate living wills in any country that you visit a lot.
5. What if I wish to die at home?
The choice to die at home rather than in hospital can be added to the living will, using the “others” section. Please note that due to medical and other technical factors it is not always possible to meet this request.
6. Is it necessary to renew a living will every 3 years ?
Thai law does not require that a living will is renewed, but many hospitals prefer a living will to be no more than 3 years old. This is to lessen the chance that the document is not the most recent version.
7. Do members have to bring their own witness when making a living will?
Yes. A witness must be present for the notary to legalize the living will. It is best if you bring a spouse or family member to be your witness.
8. What is a power of attorney (PoA)?
A PoA is a legal document giving one person (‘the agent”) the power to act for another person. The agent can have broad or limited legal authority to make legal decisions about the principal’s property, finances or medical care. However, specific transactions require a specific separate PoA (e.g. for the bank, for the Land Office, etc).
It should be noted that the PoA is only valid as long as the patient is still alive.
9. Can a power of attorney (PoA) be added to the Living Will?
A PoA cannot be part of the Living Will but it can be made as a separate document. Please contact our specialized lawyer Mrs Kantee Isareenuruk from Libothai for help with this.
10. What is the position in Thailand regarding a Last Will?
If a person dies without having made a Last Will, their possessions will be transferred in line with Thai law. A court will appoint someone to act as executor in consultation with the heirs of the deceased.
On the other hand, if the patient has a Last Will then this document can state how he/she wants to transfer their heritage and which executor he/she wishes to appoint to oversee the process. For this reason, we recommend that all members should make a Last Will.
If you have already made a Last Will in your home country then we recommend getting this document legalized in Thailand. Please contact our specialized lawyer Mrs Kantee Isareenuruk from Libothai for advice on the drafting and legalizing of Last Wills.
11. Can a Living Will be changed?
A Living Will can be updated or changed at any time. The process is the same as when the it was first made. However if a patient under doctor’s care in a hospital, becomes unable to write or sign an amendment to the Living Will, it can be amended verbally.
12. Should the Living Will be translated into Thai?
Legally, an English language Living Will does not have to be translated into Thai. Also, practically, we see little need as most doctors and hospitals in Thailand have good English language skills or can access translation services. However, we plan to make a Thai version of the Living Will for our Thai Members which could also be used as a translation for the English version.