Thinking about the end of life can be uncomfortable and difficult. However, when asked to picture their final moments, many individuals living in Los Angeles would report that they would prefer to pass peacefully in the comfort and familiarity of their home, surrounded by loved ones. Unfortunately, many individuals in California do not have an Advanced Health Care Directive so their loved ones do not know what medical care the individual wishes to receive or not receive at the end of life. Owing to this, the majority of individuals will pass away in a hospital hooked up to machines.
While the medical field has made astounding developments that can greatly prolong an individual's life, there are some instances in which an individual is alive, but incapacitated and lacking a quality of life. In the absence of proper planning and timely discussions, many families can be left to make difficult decisions about major medical procedures.
It is important to have these potentially uncomfortable conversations when an individual is of sound mind in order to prevent more discomfort and possibly anguish for family members further down the line in the event that an individual becomes incapacitated.
Outlining a living will and Advanced Health Care Directive with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney can be invaluable to an individual and their loved ones. Such planning can appoint a loved one to make necessary medical decisions in the event that the individual is unable to do so. Further, a living will also assists loved ones and medical professionals in understanding the medical treatments an individual would or would not like in the event that they become incapacitated.
The end of life can be a time of grief for many families in Los Angeles. However, planning in advance of the end can make a difficult time more peaceful for both the individual passing on and their loved ones.
Source: The Boston Globe, "Doctors have a duty to encourage patients to discuss end-of-life wishes," Kiran Gupta, Feb. 20, 2013