Health Care Directives and Living Wills at a Glance

We all know that catastrophic injuries and deteriorating health can impact anyone.

We also know that our death is a reality that cannot be avoided.

Serious medical and health care decision-making and end of life decision-making is hard to discuss.

Think about this:

What is important to you?

Is it the quality of your life or the length of your life?

With a well written Health Care Directive and Living Will, you authorize someone to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to; you define and describe under what circumstances you wish to be kept alive or be allowed to die. This document is so important. You cannot fully appreciate the wisdom and value of what I have just stated unless and/or until you face a serious medical condition or a life or death decision for someone very close to you. Please do not delay in having this document prepared for you today.

Someone should be available to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them!

Every Person Should Have An Advanced Healthcare Directive and Living Will in NJ

With a medical directive, living will and health care instruction prepared by Hanlon Niemann & Wright:

  • You can select a person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your feelings, etc. when an important medical decision needs to be made.  You can select the standard of death (brain vs. breath) you prefer should your condition become terminal.
  • Your Health Care Directive and Living Will can specify the level of heroic efforts that can be taken to preserve your life if a highly life-threatening condition strikes.
  • You pick your life/death options (when, if, how), not a judge. In other words, you decide when enough is enough… or not enough.
  • You can choose not to be kept alive but instead medicated, hydrated, and kept pain free should your condition be deemed terminal and irreversible.
  • You can spare your loved ones of the guilt of ending your life by discussing how you feel about end of life decision-making and the quality of and independence of your life.
  • Hanlon Niemann & Wright has 40+ years of trusted, real life experience in drafting Health Care Directives and Living Wills.

The Importance of Having a Living Will and Medical Directive Which Allows Access to Your Protected Health and Medical Records

Medical privacy laws exist in every state and are mandated by both Federal and New Jersey law(s).

Unless you give written authorization to a representative, doctors, nurses, hospitals, laboratories and other health care providers will often not release your medical records, charts, diagnosis, or treatment history to anyone absent a court order.  This includes spouses and adult children.  Don’t delay in having a Medical Directive and Living Will prepared today.

Can I Control What Happens to my Corpse After my Passing?

While working on health care directives, I have had clients ask me about leaving special instructions for their loved ones on what they can do with their bodies, whether it can be donated “for science” or if organs can be prioritized for loved ones or family members. Under New Jersey’s Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the simple answer to that question is yes. It’s why when you get a NJ driving license, the State asks whether you want to be an organ donor. It is the simplest way to indicate to someone without putting in a will or health care directive that you want to gift your organs. Even while you are alive, you can donate parts of your body to whomever you want, and if you are incapacitated, you can authorize your health care representative to donate or not donate some or all of your organs. The law allows you this flexibility.

So who can receive a donated body part? If you are giving away your kidney to your best friend who needs the kidney, then that is an acceptable gift. A hospital or accredited medical school, dental school, college, or university, organ procurement organization, or an eye bank or tissue bank can also accept a gift. What the law does not allow you to gifting your organs to anybody. You can’t direct upon your death that your body parts get carved out of your body and given away to family members, unless that person is receiving that body part for transplant or therapy. But you can direct that if there is a medical need for organ donation, then priority be given to your blood relatives over strangers. The law also prioritizes giving away organs to those with a medical need over research and education purposes, i.e. giving your body “to science.”

While it is a difficult and often times uncomfortable conversation to have, you want to make sure your loved ones know your wishes for what you want done with your body, along with whether you want to be resuscitated or kept alive in a situation where you have a terminal condition. Our office can assist you with preparing these documents that will make dealing with the end of your life the smoothest and easiest time your family will have as they deal with the pain and emotions that come with making these tough medical decisions.

Contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., an experienced NJ Health Care Directives and Living Will attorney, today toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at


Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Power of Attorney Lawyer