Friday, April 12, 2013
The importance of having a living will or advance directive cannot be understated. These are essential tools to have. The problem is that not many American's feel that these documents are necessary or are too scared to complete them. Remember, advance directives are important because they allow a person to expressly provide what they want in terms of health care treatment following their incapacitation and can provide a sense of comfort to family members when faced with an impossible choice. Unfortunately, there are still problems with advance directives, which can often lead to confusion among doctors, hospitals, and family members. The main problem is that advance directives are overly legalistic. Because of their nature, many people are uncomfortable about making life and death decisions on a form that they can barely understand.
A better approach might be to appoint a health care proxy. In this instance, the principal, or the person appointing a health care agent, can sit down with the agent and discuss what they want in terms of health care. Now, in this instance, it is not necessary for the principal to discuss every health care procedure and his or her opinions on them. What is important is that the agent know the principal's values and what sort of life that person would like to live should he or she become incapacitated. Most importantly, a principal should discuss the circumstances under which they would like to die if it ever came that circumstance.
See Ben Steveman, The Right Way To Craft A Living Will, Bloomberg, Apr. 9, 2013.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) and Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.