April 16th was National Healthcare Decisions Day. The point of this “holiday” is to encourage adults to share their private wishes about medical care and end-of-life decisions. Way too many adults harbor the mistaken belief that their loved ones would “just know” what would be desired in an emergency situation. That assumption could have adverse consequences.
The last thing your family needs in a moment of crisis is a family fight, and that’s exactly what could happen if your loved ones disagree about what you “would have wanted.” It’s a problem that is so easy to address…so easy to avoid, that it makes absolutely no sense to leave this issue to chance.
A National Case Study
Do you remember Terri Shiavo? The case in Florida that tore a family apart, drew the attention of national media, and became the topic of debate in households across America? Shiavo was 26 years young when she had a heart attack that left her in a permanent vegetative state. Shiavo’s family went to court and stayed in court for years, all over questions regarding the removal of life support and feeding tubes.
That’s right . . . YEARS in court. People take these issues very seriously, and many folks are very black and white about their beliefs. There is nothing wrong with being black and white regarding how you feel about life support. Just be clear about what you want because not everyone shares your beliefs and desires (including people who may be called upon to make decisions on your behalf).
Get It On Paper
Sharing your desires simply isn’t enough. Make sure that you get your wishes down on paper and that the proper legal formalities are followed to a “T". Otherwise, your directives might not be followed despite your best intentions. Besides that, having your wishes expressed in writing—expressed literally in black and white—will make things easier on your loved ones.
Emotions run rampant when emergency situations present themselves. Your family members love you and they will think about life without you around. There might even be feelings of guilt over how certain they are about your wishes, and there might be dissension between your loved ones about what you want . . . unless your wishes are in writing.
In Honor of The Holiday
Take this opportunity, the day we have been given, to share your wishes about end-of-life care and emergency medical treatments with loved ones. Think about and discuss artificial life support (e.g. feeding tubes and respirators). Talk about options and desires for long-term care, should the need arise.
Finally, you need to decide who you trust to make important decisions on your behalf. We are here to support you as you begin thinking about these important issues. Of course, the topic of conversation isn’t exactly a walk-in-the-park, but it’s won’t be as hard as you think, either.
Give me a call at (818) 864-6174 or visit www.vterzianlaw.com if you have any questions or would like to meet with me regarding your estate plan.