Have you ever gone to the hospital for a procedure, even a minor one, and been asked if you have a Living Will, an Advance (Medical) Directive or a Power of Attorney?
If you were unsure or your answer was “maybe” or “I think so”, you probably need to contact an attorney to discuss your estate planning needs. An Advance Directive, Healthcare Directive, Medical Directive, Advance Medical Directives, or a Living Will are all generally described as the same thing. Actually, the term “Advance Directive” means a written document or statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate with a doctor or medical provider. A Living Will is one of the most common forms of Advance Directives and many people consider Advance Directives and Living Will as one and the same. However, an Advance Directive could also including a Durable Power of Attorney appointing a Health Care Representative (Durable Health Care Power of Attorney). Today we are focusing on the Living Will or Advance Medical Directives.
If you have ever been to a hospital for yourself or a loved one, you may have seen folded pamphlets at check-in that say Advance Medical Directives or Living Will. And in most cases, if you are getting a procedure done you have been asked if you have one of these documents. The reason the hospital, doctor, or medical provider wants you have one as part of your estate plan is quite obvious, they want to know what YOU medically want done in case the worse or unexpected happens. This is a simple but important document that you should have. However, simply having a Living Will or Advance Directive does not fully ensure your wishes will be carried out to their fullest as these are generally limited to life-prolonging procedures. A Living Will tells your doctor and family that if you are near death with no hope of recovery, whether you DO or DO NOT want to receive medical treatment that will prolong the dying process. It will state whether you want to die naturally and NOT be put on a ventilator, receive artificially supplied nutrition and hydration, OR that you DO want to be put on a ventilator and DO want to receive artificially supplied nutrition and hydration, even if the effort to sustain life is futile or excessively burdensome to you.
In a Living Will you have 3 options that you may choose from: (1) Receive artificially supplied nutrition, etc; (2) Do NOT receive artificially supplied nutrition, etc; OR (3) I intentionally leave the decision to my Healthcare Representative (Durable Health Care Power of Attorney).
As I stated above a Living Will or Advance Directive may NOT fully ensure your wishes are carried out. If you are unable to communicate, BUT are not in need of artificially supplied nutrition, who will make your medical decisions for you? A loved one, even a spouse at times are not allowed to make certain decisions on your behalf without a Durable Power of Attorney Appointing a Health Care Representative (Health Care Power of Attorney). This is where a having a Durable Power of Attorney Appointing a Health Care Representative is important and necessary. A properly appointed Health Care Representative (Healthcare Representative) can make these decisions for you including life-prolonging decisions. However, a Living Will is limited to only life-prolonging decisions and does not state what other types of treatments you may want or do not want.
You should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options before you go have a procedure done, no matter how small.
Call Perry Law Office today to talk to one of our attorneys to discuss what is the best option for you and your family.
Perry Law Office, P.C.