We all have an ever-expanding category of things to think about “later”, and certainly it is tempting to defer the business of dealing with the future incapacity of you, your parents, spouse, or anyone for whom you may have familial responsibility. But there is good news: once you make the decision to follow through, the actual preparation and execution of the two Advance Directives discussed below is not very burdensome, and I can arrange for the execution of these documents for a very reasonable cost. These Directives, executed properly, will not expire and you simply won’t have to think about them again, hopefully for many many years to come!
A Living Will is a document in which the Principal (the person signing the document) sets forth the type of medical treatment or procedures he or she does or does not wish to undergo, in the event the person is determined to be suffering from an incurable or irreversible medical condition. The Living Will becomes effective when the Principal is unable to participate in his or her own medical decisions; the Living Will “stands in” for the Principal and directs the medical provider in accordance with the wishes of the Principal as stated in the document. Connecticut has a statutory form Living Will which specifies certain “life support systems” which the Principal identifies he/she does not wish to undergo.
Another Advance Directive I often recommend is the Designation of Health Care Proxy. In executing this document, the Principal doesn’t specify any particular medical treatment (although that can be included), but rather the Principal designates an individual who will make decisions on her behalf, either in accord with a separate living will or simply as has been expressed to the Proxy. While a Living Will expresses the wishes of the Principal, the Health Care Proxy can go a step further, creating an advocate who can ask questions, obtain records, seek out medical opinions, and generally pursue the wishes of the patient. Obviously the preference is to designate a trusted friend or family member, who is willing to do what is necessary to see that the wishes of the Principal are carried out.
Questions about Advance Directives? Call or email anytime and we’ll meet to talk about your needs.