Medical science can now keep people alive via the use of artificial means for extended periods of time, even when there is no hope of recovery.
Imagine being asked to make a life or death decision involving a family member without having any input into what this individual would have wanted to do had he or she been capable of communicating a decision. This is really an untenable position to be in because such a decision is a personal one and different people have different ideas about the matter.
The case of Terri Schiavo, one that occupied news headlines several years ago, illustrates the type of acrimony that can ensue among family members in these situations.
Because scenarios such as these do arise, it is advisable to include advance health care directives in your estate plan. One of these is a living will, in which you spell out your medical preferences if you are terminal or persistently unconscious. If Terri Schiavo would have had a living will in place, her husband and her parents would have had no cause for disagreement. Her own wishes would have been known and honored.
It is also a good idea to include a durable power of attorney for health care. With this document you empower someone of your choosing to make your medical decisions if you become unable to communicate them yourself. This covers your bases in the event that a medical decision must be made in all the other instances when you are not terminal or persistently unconscious. The instances where this document is used far outnumber those requiring use of the living will.
These documents are an important part of any comprehensive estate plan. To put your advance directives in place simply pick up the phone right now to set up an appointment with a licensed, experienced Oklahoma City estate planning lawyer.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday