Thursday, November 29, 2007

Advanced Directives - Why You Need Them

VA Family Law Blog has a great post on why people need a Living Will. Even when you get past the specific Virginia issue that seems to prompt the article, I got to say the following reasons apply to Indiana. The only thing I would add is that not only is a Living Will needed but also a health care power of attorney as well as a durable power of attorney. (We call these things advanced directives.)

You might want to read all of Keeping government out of your death: Terri Schiavo is not the only reason you need a Living Will but here is one paragraph that caught my attention:

"Despite the enormous expense, live-televised drama and the emotional burden of the Schiavo case, plenty of folks still do not have Living Wills. A Living Will states what you want done in the event that you find yourself in a position like Schiavo. It takes the burden off your family. Some people say that they know their loved ones would do the right thing. They are confident there would be no family battle."
All that is so true. I have been trying to educate my clients about the need for advanced directives for these very same reasons. I received nothing but silence. I do not quite understand the silence - I assume that no one really wants to be thinking about death or disability. The problem lies in a situation where a spouse is in a coma and action needs taken. Without a Power of Attorney, the costs for taking action grow geometrically. Maybe I just did not put all this as well as did the VA Family Law Blog:
Would you want to be deprived of food or water if you were in a persistent vegetative state? What about heroic measures, like resuscitation or a permanent electronic breathing apparatus — would you want those things used on you? What if you were terribly ill, like with end stage cancer or advanced Alzheimer’s disease? Talk to your loved ones about it. Then get a Living Will. Whether you want all efforts made, none or something in between, get this inexpensive legal document drawn up to make what YOU want clear for your family and the medical professionals who want to help you. It is the best way to prevent politicians and other officious intermeddlers from making you their political hay.