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Discussing End-of-Life Decisions

The California Health Care Foundation Encourages Californians to Discuss End-of-Life Decisions

Recently, the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) encouraged Californians to discuss end-of-life decisions. This came on the heels of a survey the CHCF did that showed that while 60% of Californians believe it is important to have an end of life discussion with loved ones, only half of those particular respondents had actually done so. This demonstrates that while the majority of Californians understand the importance of end-of-life discussions, many are reluctant to actually have a conversation about it.

This is understandable. End-of-life discussions cover difficult issues such as whether a loved one wants to be kept on life support and in what circumstances. While you can have a document directing your representative in certain circumstances, it is difficult to cover all possible situations, and a document may be too rigid. For this reason, if you feel strongly about what you wish to happen to you in an end-of-life situation, you'll want to have a representative, someone who can think critically based on what you've told her about what you want done.

You should still have a basic outline of your wishes in writing. Additionally, appoint in writing a person with whom you've had a conversation about end-of-life decisions and who you believe understands your wishes, to act as your representative in case you're unable to communicate your wishes to medical staff. Having something in writing is important, because your representative may need to prove to the state what your wishes were.

So in order to have your wishes respected at the end of your life, you should do two things:

  • outline some broad situations and appoint a representative in writing, in case your representative needs to prove to the court what your wishes were regarding life support and other end-of-life situations;
  • and have a discussion with your representative(s) about what you want done in more specific situations, or convey your general philosophy about what should be done in end-of-life situations.

We can help you with end-of-life planning and make sure you cover what needs to be stated, as well as help you discuss end-of-life decisions with a chosen representative in order to make sure your wishes are clearly communicated and understood. Contact our Torrance estate planning attorney for more information on end-of-life planning.