The Livens Law Firm

Living will provides security for final healthcare decisions

Estate planning in Texas includes the area of making medical decisions for your loved one in the event of incapacity. Advanced directives are used to provide guidance for medical decisions after incapacitation and the inability of the loved to communicate his or her own wishes. One commonly used directive is the living will.  It's important to remember that this and other directives should be discussed with the loved one while still alert and communicative so as to assure his or her wishes are carried out.

The living will is made by the loved one while he or she is still alive. It tells the doctors and hospital personnel how the person wishes to be treated in a situation where the individual is unable to express his intentions or give informed consent. Generally, the living will is used most popularly to tell hospital officials and doctors that the individual does not want to be on life-sustaining equipment where there is a medical determination of brain death or something similar.

The other document used most widely is a durable power of attorney, also called a health care proxy, given to the person appointed to make medical decisions during any period of incapacity. This can be a valuable document because the person's wishes can be largely carried out without having to get a guardian appointed by the court. However, one problem that is reported is that the health care proxy often doesn't really know what the loved one would have wanted or is only guessing.

Furthermore, there may conflicting opinions between alternative appointees, each having their own idea of what should be done. These observations highlight the need for communication with the loved one. A potential appointee should know how the loved one thinks and what special beliefs, such as religious preferences, should be honored.

In Texas and each state, there are particular rules associated with health care directives. The living will must be drawn up to comply with state statutory requirements.  Again, it's vital to know what the loved one would want done in certain situations in order to construct these documents to assure his or her true wishes.

Source: heraldonline.com, "Local news from Rock Hill, SC", Pamela Yip, Oct. 29, 2014

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