Monday, September 24, 2012
The problem with some living wills is that they only provide guidance in a few circumstances. The trouble emerges from the increased quality of life-prolonging medical technology. The increase in technology has made it difficult for doctors now to predict the conditions that a person will be in should they live through their ordeal. In addition, there are problems with interpreting what a living will means. For example, a problem could arise in the use of the term "meaningful quality of life." It be difficult for a person's loved ones to determine what their loved one meant by "meaningful quality of life" without any help from that person. This also stems from the drafter's inability to articulate what they want should they become unable to make medical decisions for themselves.
Now, some argue that people should abandon the use of living wills in lieu of appointing a health care agent to speak on that person's behalf. As always, it is important for a person to discuss his or her wishes with the agent making the decisions for that person. The good thing about this option is that anything can be used by the agent as evidence of that person's wishes. In other words, a person could make a phone call to the agent and discuss what they want or they could write a list or letter.
See Laura Johannes, A New Look at Living Wills, Wall Street Journal, Jun. 8, 2012.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.