You may or may not be familiar with the term "advance medical directive." For those who are not, it's a general term describing a legal document allowing someone you appoint to give instructions about your future medical care. This document becomes effective immediately in the event a qualified physician declares you permanently comatose or in a vegetative state. Without this document, decisions regarding health treatments and life sustaining measures are usually left up to a patient's family or physician. To remove doubts and take the burden off of loved ones in such cases, it's a good idea to prepare a Living Will beforehand to state your choices regarding artificial life. While personal beliefs and values play an important role in ones decisions regarding a Living Will, some good questions to ask yourself are:
- What constitutes 'quality of life' for me and would it have meaning?
- Does artificial ventilation (breathing machine) or other forms of artificial life sustainment appeal to me as a form of 'living'?
- What is most important to me to be kept alive by artificial means?
- What is not acceptable to me with regards to prolonging my life?
- Who do I trust to carry out my directives in a Living Will?
When naming a health care agent, most people name their spouse, a relative, close friend or partner. The most important thing is naming someone you feel confident in and that will respect your right to get the treatment you desire, even if they disagree with your wishes. This person may also need to be the assertive type in case they are faced with opposing views of a stubborn medical establishment, or family members who may attempt to fight your wishes based on emotions, opposing beliefs, religion, etc. Also, someone who lives in a close proximity is vital if they must be available to make medical decisions over a period of weeks, months, or longer.
For answers to other questions you may have, and to take the next step towards preparing your Living Will, please feel free to contact a Torrance estate planning lawyer at our firm.