As a child, we are told to do this and do that. All children say “I can do it myself”
If all you wanted when you were a child was to be an adult to make your own decisions, why would you allow yourself to be placed in that same situation again as an adult? Do you really want someone else to decide the most important decision you will ever be faced with? If you become incapacitated, do you want someone else to decide when to “pull the plug” or “take out the feeding tube”?
A very famous Florida case lasting from 1990-2005 was the Terri Schiavo case. The issue was whether to carry out the decision of her husband, to terminate life support for his wife or follow the wishes of her parents. Terri collapsed at home in full cardiac arrest and suffered massive brain damage due to lack of oxygen. After 2.5 months Terri was diagnosed by doctors as being in a “persistent vegetative state”. The case was highly publicized and prolonged by court appeals and multiple denials by the Supreme Court of the United States. Terri’s life was prolonged for years due to the fact that her wishes were unknown.
Without proper planning your ultimate last wishes will be unknown. You can have conversations with your spouse, your children, family members and close friends. However, unless there is something written on paper, your wishes will go unheard. The last thing families should deal with at such a difficult time is inner family fighting over your last wishes.
There are a number of documents that will state exactly what a person wants when they become incapacitated.
Durable Power of Attorney: This document will state who will be in charge of financial decisions on your behalf.
Healthcare Surrogate: This document will direct who will make healthcare decisions (ie. If you get into a car accident and are not conscious to decide if you should get surgery)
HIPPA Release: This will allow the individual you choose to view your medical records. Even married couples cannot view their spouse’s medical records (MRI, Xray, etc) without a HIPPA release.
Living Will (Advanced Directive): This form of “will” is to be used while an individual is still alive (but no longer able to make decisions) hence the term “living will”.
This document will state how and if you want to prolong your life if you fall into a vegetative state. You can state if you wish to be placed on life support, if so, for how long and at what point to “pull the plug”. You can also state if you wish to receive a feeding tube and when you wish to take it out.
Without the use of the (1) Durable Power of Attorney, (2) Healthcare Surrogate, (3) HIPPA Release, and (4) Living Will, your wishes will not be heard. Do not let someone else direct your life when it matters most.
Take charge of your last living decisions and plan ahead! For more information on successful Florida estate planning, please contact The Hershey Law Firm PA at (954) 303-9468 to schedule your free consultation.