Tennessee Living Will Law


Living Wills – General – Tennessee

General Information (§ 32-11-103)
Under the Tennessee Right to Natural Death Act:

a “competent person” is an individual who is able to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of a decision to accept or refuse treatment;

a “declarant” is an individual who declares a living will under the applicable statutes;

a “living will” is a written declaration stating declarant’s desires for medical care or non-care, including palliative care, and other related matters such as organ donation and body disposal;

“palliative care” includes any measure taken by a physician or health care provider designed primarily to maintain the patient’s comfort; and

a “terminal condition” is any disease, illness, injury or condition, including, but not limited to, a coma or persistent vegetative state, sustained by any human being, from which there is no reasonable medical expectation of recovery and which, as a medical probability, will result in the death of a human being, regardless of the use or discontinuance of medical treatment implemented for the purpose of sustaining life, or the life processes.

Execution and Delivery (§ 32-11-104)
Any competent adult person may execute a declaration directing the withholding or withdrawal of medical care to such person, to become effective on loss of competency. The declaration must be in writing and signed by the principal. The declaration is valid if the principal’s signature is either attested by a notary public with no witnesses or witnessed by two (2) witnesses without attestation by a notary public. A witness is a competent adult, who is not the agent, and at least one (1)of whom is not related to the principal by blood, marriage, or adoption and would not be entitled to any portion of the estate of the principal upon the death of the principal under any will or codicil made by the principal existing at the time of execution of the declaration or by operation of law then existing. The declaration shall contain an attestation clause that attests to the witnesses’ compliance with the requirements of this subsection. The declaration shall be substantially in the form established in Section 32-11-105. It is the intent of the general assembly that this subsection have retroactive application.

It is the responsibility of the declarant or someone acting on the declarant’s behalf to deliver a copy of a living will or declaration to the attending physician and/or other concerned health care provider. An attending physician must make the declaration, or a copy of it, part of the declarant’s medical record.

Form (§ 32-11-105)
A living will declaration must be substantially in the statutory form established in § 32-11-105.

Revocation (§ 32-11-106)
A declaration may be revoked at any time by the declarant, without regard to the declarant’s mental state or competency, by any of the following methods:

(1) written revocation by the declarant, dated and signed by the declarant.

(2) by oral statement or revocation made by the declarant to the attending physician.

A revocation must be made a part of the declarant’s medical record by the attending physician.

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