Living Wills and Other Advance Directives
How do you envision your last days on Earth? What does it mean to you to die with dignity? Do you believe that we should employ every available means to extend life, or is there a time to just let go? These are questions with very personal answers, reflecting religious beliefs, cultural perspectives, and individual preferences. Because there are so many conflicting viewpoints on end-of-life care, the only way to ensure that your wishes for your final moments are carried out is to make them known, officially, by means of written legal documents. Letting your preferences be known through advance directives relieves your loved ones of having to make difficult and sometimes contentious decisions, and lets your doctors and other healthcare providers know what they should and should not do to honor your wishes when your state is terminal.
Creating a Living Will, Health Care Proxy, and Durable Power of Attorney
Advance medical directives provide a legally recognized documentation of your desires and preferences regarding extending your life by way of medical intervention. Now is the time, when you are still healthy, clear of mind and able to articulate your wishes, that you need to create a written record of the decisions you have made. By doing so you can spare your family from having to make heart-wrenching decisions at an emotional time, and you can feel secure in knowing that that when the end is near, you’ll be allowed to face your death on your own terms – with dignity and grace as you define those terms. A compassionate and experienced estates and trusts lawyer will guide you through the process of creating clearly worded, unambiguous instructions to your family and medical team. At Barnes Law Group, LLC, our attorneys can help with this important task. You will want to have several types of advance directives in place: Including a living will and powers of attorney.
Your Living Will
A Living Will is a written document that specifies what kinds of medical treatment you want or don’t want, if you are terminally ill and incapacitated to the extent that you are no longer able to communicate your wishes. The instructions in your living will may be quite broad or very detailed and specific. In the simplest terms, your living will might state that if you are suffering from an illness that your doctor has determined is incurable, no interventions should be made that will only serve to prolong your dying, and that treatment should be limited to keeping you as comfortable as possible in your last days.
If you prefer, you might name those interventions you would find acceptable and those you would not. A more specific living will might list which interventions are acceptable and which are not. An example might be that all pain medication would be acceptable, but a ventilator or feeding tube would not. Or you might state that you should not be resuscitated if you were to stop breathing by means of a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order.
Durable Powers of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a kind of legal advance directive that takes effect if you are medically incapacitated and unable to handle your affairs yourself. The DPOA allows the person you’ve designated to handle all of your financial affairs, for example managing your bank accounts and investments, applying for disability benefits, signing your social security checks, or paying your bills using your checking account.
Another type of advance directive is appointing a health care proxy by means of a Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney. This is a legal document naming the person you want to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and incapable of making those decisions yourself. You should discuss your wishes with this person and provide him or her with a copy of your living will. If the time comes when your condition precludes you from articulating your wishes, your chosen health care proxy will have the right to examine your medical records and to determine what treatments you will or will not receive.
Legal Help to Create Your Advance Directives
Because your end of life wishes are very personal and unique, the New Jersey estate planning attorneys at Barnes Law Group, LLC, will sit down with you and take whatever amount of time is necessary to help you decide exactly what you would like to include in your living will and other advance directives. Every client has his or her own beliefs, experiences, and concerns about life’s end; yours should be reflected in the instructions provided by your advance directives. We know that planning for your death is difficult, and we will help to guide you through this emotionally challenging process, so you can be confident that your wishes will be respected in your final days.
Call Barnes Law Group, LLC, today.