Latest surveys show that 25% to 30% of Americans have living wills/healthcare directives (“Healthcare Directives”). Unfortunately, many Healthcare Directives do not accurately capture a dying person’s wishes because of medical advances in life-prolonging technology. Due to this fact, we are urging our friend to keep their Healthcare Directives updated because we know that life-prolonging medical technology will continue to advance throughout our lives.
With the good advances in life-prolonging technology advancements, there is a bad. Doctors are now having a difficult time predicting outcomes from traumatic accidents and surgeries. For example, a daughter recently had to make a difficult decision for her father who was in a coma, and hooked up to a ventilator. What made her decision difficult was that her father’s Healthcare Directive expressed his desires for only a few black-and-white situations. The Healthcare Directive stated that her father did not want to be kept alive if he were to be terminally ill, or in an irreversible vegetative state. However, the Healthcare Director did not address her father’s current situation where there was a good chance that he would wake-up from his coma but he would have severe brain damage. What made the daughter’s decision even harder is that her father’s doctor could not provide a probability of brain damage.
Like in this situation for the daughter above, the hardest life-death decisions for families will likely center on whether there will be a desirable quality level of life post traumatic surgery so that life, rather than death, would be a more preferable choice.
Most living wills/healthcare directors that can be downloaded from the internet, or are provided to individuals from traditional lawyers, do not address these hardest life-death decisions. A Healthcare Directive provided to you from a Personal Family Lawyer® will address these difficult life-death decisions. A Personal Family Lawyer® will provide various life-death scenarios to incorporate into your Healthcare Directive to provide clarity to your love ones on your life-prolonging and death decisions. Such terminology that a Personal Family Lawyer® can incorporate into your Healthcare Directive includes language that clearly directs your loved ones to cease life-prolonging treatments if there is no reasonable medical probability of recovery from a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.
Additionally, a Personal Family Lawyer® can provide to you various styles of Healthcare Directive centered on what is most important to you. For example, your Healthcare Directive can be centered on different levels of your cognitive decline from coma, to mental “confusion,” that require 24-hour supervision, and ask when you would want life support. Another style of a Healthcare Directive can be centered on whether you want doctors to be “positively certain,” “certain to a high degree” or “reasonably certain” that you will never recover from your life-death situation before pulling the plug on technology that is keeping you alive.
These life-death situations naturally lead you to the realization of how important your decision to nominate a trusted family member or friend who clearly understands your life-death desires. Your healthcare agent must try to make a decision that you would if you could. Working with a Person Family Lawyer®, you will be guided through these life-death decision landmines and will finish with a Healthcare Directive that clearly sets forth your life-death wishes centered on your quality of life.
When you work with the Ishman Law Firm, you will have a Healthcare Directive formulated to address your specific life-death wishes so that your loved ones will know what to do if such a situation occurs in your life time.
Without planning with the Ishman Law Firm, you will not know what life-death decision options are available to you. Please come and see us right away because planning can take time. Call (919) 468-3266 or email Mark@IshmanLegal.com. For additional estate planning information, please visit www.NCestateLawyer.com.