Holding Hands with Elderly Patient

What measures would you like carried out, if health issues arise and you can’t speak for yourself?

A very important conversation to have with your loved ones is what type of care you would like should a health crisis arise. While it most likely will not be your favorite conversation, it is important that you don’t put the conversation off until a health emergency occurs, according to the Cleveland Clinic in “How to Get Your Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney in Order“.

Three tasks you need to tackle:

Have your estate planning attorney help you complete advance directives. Remember that each state has its own laws, so work with a local attorney who can create the correct documents. You’ll want a Health Care Proxy naming an agent to make medical decisions when you can’t speak for yourself. If you recover enough to able to become competent, then their responsibility ends for that event.  Without a Health Care Proxy, your state’s laws will determine who makes your medical decisions.

You also need to have a serious and specific conversation with your designated health care agent regarding the kind of care you want or don’t want if you are terminally ill, unconscious, and otherwise unresponsive.. Your agent needs to know your personal preferences about life -sustaining measures, including but not limited to the use of artificial means, as well as when to make a life-ending decision.

Talk with your family and loved ones. Critical care doctors often report that when they ask patient’s family members what the patient’s wishes are, few families know. What if you woke up from a car accident and discovered that you were breathing through a ventilator and could neither speak nor move? These are uncomfortable conversations, but in their absence, patients and families are left in worse situations.

You should also talk with your doctors and healthcare providers about your wishes. It is important for them to have a copy of your advance directives to keep in your medical records. They’ll be scanned and placed in your file. Let them know about your wishes your values and about end-of-life care. Your goals may change, so you may need to have more than one conversation. You may want to speak with your family members first, then document your wishes with your estate planning attorney.

Reference: Cleveland Clinic (Oct. 11, 2018) “How to Get Your Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney in Order

For more information on elder law and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.