Introduction:

A person can prepare a living will in preparation for a situation that in which he is considered terminally ill and unable to make decisions
The instructions are valid for five years, though they may be extended
In addition, the person may appoint someone to have power of attorney to give instructions in his/her place
In cases where there is both a living will and a power of attorney was appointed, in general, the instructions of the living will take precedent over the power of attorney
For additional information, see the Ministry of Health's English website

The Terminally Ill Patient Law allows every person to express his will in advance regarding medical treatment if and when his is ever determined to be terminally ill and is unfit to make medical decisions (for example if a person looses consciousness).

  • The law also entitles a person appoint a power of attorney who will be authorized to make decisions in their stead in such a situation.
  • It is possible to combine a living will with the appointment of a power of attorney.
    • In this case, it is recommended to provide clear instructions regarding the possibility of a contradiction between the living will and instruction from the person with power of attorney.
    • As a general rule, if there are no such instructions, and there is a contradiction, preference will be given to what is written in the living will.
    • In cases where power of attorney was given a significant amount of time after the living will, an institutional committee will determine if the power of attorney takes precedence over the living will or not.

Target Audience and Prerequisites

Giving advance medical instructions through a living will

  • A competent person is entitled to give a living will.
  • Someone is considered competent to make decisions if all of the following conditions are met:
    1. He is at least 17 years old.
    2. He has not been declared to be legally incompetent.
    3. He is capable of expressing his/her will.
    4. He is capable of making medical decisions based on understanding, discretion and free will.

How the instructions of a living will go into effect

  • The living will goes into effect if a person meets both of the following conditions:
    1. He is terminally ill.
    2. He is incapable of making decisions (for example he can't give his opinion because he is unconscious or has a severe case of dementia).

Stages of the Process

  • Firstly, individuals must consider the issue carefully before coming to a decision regarding their will with regard to the medical care they will receive in the event that they are determined to be "terminally ill".
  • It is recommended to talk with family members to ensure that they are aware of these wishes.
  • A Living Will Form should then be filled out carefully, and after receiving explanations from a doctor or nurse.
  • Those who are already considered to be terminally ill when filling out the form must receive explanations from a medical specialist who is familiar with their medical condition and can clarify the significance of receiving or not receiving a particular type of treatment (i.e. in relation to it causing pain or suffering; preventing pain or suffering; impacting life expectancy, etc.).
  • The form must be signed before two witnesses who have no economic or other interests, and who have not been given power of attorney. The witnesses must sign the form in order to confirm the grantor's signature.

Validity Period for a Living Will

  • Living wills are valid for five years from the date the form was signed, unless a shorter period of validity was established.
  • The validity of living wills may be extended for up to five years at a time.
  • Extension of a living will may be performed by filling out a Living Will Extension Form.

Change and Cancellation of a Living Will

  • When an individual submits a living will, this invalidates any and all prior living wills that person may have had.
  • A living will may be canceled in writing before two witnesses, by filling out a Living Will Cancellation Form.
  • Living wills that are not renewed after five years do not become completely invalid; but rather, they become non-obligatory.
  • A doctor may use an old living will that has expired to form an opinion regarding the patient's will if it must be ascertained and the patient is unable to express it. Accordingly, those who would like to cancel a living will make sure that it is clear that they have completely changed their mind should fill out a Living Will Cancellation Form.

Patients Unable to Sign a living will

  • Submitting a living will, granting power of attorney, as well as all changes and cancellations require the grantor to be able to sign in his/her own name.
  • Patients unable to sign their own name due to illness or disability are permitted to put a finger print in the area designated for a signature.
  • If someone requires the assistance of someone else to sign or put a finger print, the signature or finger print is invalid.
  • In such a case, the grantor may make a verbal declaration before two witnesses:
    • The grantor must declare verbally that he/she was prevented from signing the form due to physical limitations and that everything written on the form is in accordance with his/her personal opinion and consent as the result of careful consideration and free will, and not as the result of familial, societal or any other form of pressure.
    • The declaration must be documented in writing and the witnesses must sign, indicating their verification regarding everything that was stated in the declaration.

Storing Documents in a Database

  • Grantors may store relevant documents anywhere they see fit.
  • The Ministry of Health also recommends that the documents be stored in the Ministry of Health's Data Bank of Advance Medical Directives' database.
  • The forms must be mailed by registered mail to the following address, with a photocopy of the individual’s ID card (teudat zehut):
The Ministry of Health - The Center for Preparatory Medical Guidance
Yirmiyahu Street 39, Jerusalem 9101002
P.O. Box 1176
  • You can contact the center through the "Kol HaBriut" call center:
  • The center will do the following:
    • The forms will be thoroughly examined to make sure they have been filled out clearly and correctly in order to avoid any lack of clarity at the time they are needed.
    • The documents will be stored and kept available for those treating a terminally ill patient, if needed.
    • Before expiring, the grantor will receive a reminder (to the address indicated on the request) to renew the forms.
    • Physicians treating a terminally ill patient may check with the database if the patient has submitted a living will or power of attorney, and may receive a copy of the relevant documentation if needed.

Please Note

  • Before signing, doctors sometimes require that one of the witnesses signing the form be a lawyer. It is important to clarify that the law does not require one of the people signing the form to be a lawyer. All that is required is that neither of them have power of attorney for the grantor, nor economic or other interests related to the grantor.
  • If the parties would like a lawyer to sign the form, it is important to know that there are lawyers who do not charge for such a signature or who charge a symbolic fee, because they are simply signing on a prepared form and no writing or editing is required on their part.
  • Another option in determining how and by whom a persons medical care will be decided if he can not care for himself is through the preparation of Continuing Power of Attorney

Aid Organizations

Government Agencies

Government Agency Website Rights and Areas of Responsibility
*8840 Ministry for Social Equality - Hotline for Public Inquiries Ministry for Social Equality website The ‎*8840 hotline run by the Ministry for Social Equality gives the elderly a central address to direct all of their questions, provide information regarding rights, services and benefits entitled to the elderly. It also helps them actualize these rights.
*6050 hotlines - The National Insurance Institute Senior Citizens' Rights on the National Insurance Institute's website. Rights to various allowances given based on age and economic situation.
*9696 hotline - The National Insurance Institute's Call Center for Senior Citizen Counseling Services Senior Citizens' Rights on the National Insurance Institute's website. Free aid provided through counseling services for senior citizens and the call center
The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services

Shil - Citizens Advice Service hotline - 118

Senior Citizens on the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services website Funding of Nursing Homes for independent and frail seniors. Various services are also provided within the community.
The Ministry of Health

*5400 "Kol HaBriut" Ministry of Health Hotline

Senior Health on the Ministry of Health website. Health Insurance and assistance for those suffering from age related health problems.
*5442 The Ministry of Housing and Construction Call Center The Ministry of Construction and Housing website Housing Assistance and Problem Solving for Senior Citizens
Equal Employment Opportunities Commission- 02-6662701 Equal Employment Opportunities Commission website] The commission responsible for enforcing equality in the workplace and for handling cases of prohibited discrimination.
The Population and Immigration Authority - *3450 Population and Immigration Authority website Treatment of foreign workers, responsible for giving permits for the employment of foreign workers, managing the financial deposits that employers of foreign workers are required to deposit, oversight of the entrance and exit of foreign workers into Israel, issuing a death certificate, and updating the Population authority.

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