The topic of “pulling the plug” and other aspects of end-of-life medical care are incredibly sensitive subjects, and most people have very strong opinions on such matters. In fact, you’ve probably seen some very high-profile legal battles between family members play out in the news in the past.
No one can completely avoid the potential of being placed in an end-of-life medical situation, so what can you do to help prevent such legal battles from occurring in your family? In Colorado, you can effectively prepare by filling out an array of documents known as Advance Health Care Directives.
These documents spell out your wishes regarding end-of-life medical care, such as when you become terminally ill and your condition degrades to a point where you cannot make decisions for yourself, or for when you are in an accident and fall into a coma with no reasonable hope of recovery. Your will only takes effect after you have passed, so it is essential that you utilize advance health care directives to prepare for times when you may still be alive but unable to make your own medical decisions. Some of these documents may include a Medical Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will, and a CPR Directive.
Below we have outlined three keys reason that everyone should take the time to draft their advance health care directives right away:
1) Accidents can happen at any time
We live in a world that is nothing if not unpredictable. Our mortality is a difficult reality to face, but it is perhaps the truest truth there is. We are all going to die at some point, and it really could happen at any time. Many people imagine that advance health care directives are only for the sick or elderly. The fact is, no matter your age or health, it is important to have these directives in place. If you were struck by a vehicle while crossing the street tomorrow, wouldn’t you want your family and medical practitioners to have a plan for how to handle your end-of-life treatment? Wouldn’t you want to feel confident that your wishes would be properly carried out?
Accidents can happen at any time, and we must all be prepared for the implications of this fact—including drafting detailed advance health care directives.
2) Avoid burdening your loved ones
Imagine being placed in a situation where one of your loved ones is in a coma and the doctors inform you that there is very little chance they will ever wake up, or that they would ever be able to function again if they did. Your loved one did not have any advance health care directives to speak of in this scenario, so the choice is left to you whether or not to pull the plug. The decision of whether or not to keep them alive through artificial means is entirely on your shoulders. What will your other loved ones think of your choice? Can you afford to keep them on a ventilator for years in hopes that some day they might wake up? What would your loved one have wanted if he or she was awake? These are questions that no one should ever have to answer for another person. It is a burden that no one wants their family members to have to bear.
Advance health care directives take this difficult choice out of your loved ones’ hands. They provide clear instructions as to your wishes regarding end-of-life care, leaving no questions regarding what you would have wanted.
3) Chance to decide what you want
No one enjoys thinking about their death, but it is a reality we must all confront. Drafting advance health care directives provides you with an opportunity to practically consider what you actually want regarding end-of-life care, and to discuss it with your loved ones so that they are not blindsided by your wishes when the time comes. They give you a reason to think and talk about hard questions that no one wants to think or talk about, but everyone should.
Keep in mind, advance health care directives should always be crafted as part of an overarching estate plan and strategy. If you are interested in getting started, please do not hesitate to contact the law office of Carolyn Moller Duncan today and let us guide you to ensure your end-of-life wishes are in full legal compliance and properly carried out when the time comes.