While it's not fun to think about, many of us (or our loved ones) could someday face a time when we need to have medical decisions made by others who we trust to carry out our wishes.
Yet without setting forth our wishes and preferences in well-drafted, binding legal documents, our wishes could end up being ignored in favor of what someone else thinks or guesses we would want.
Many high-profile news stories in recent years have highlighted the serious problems that can occur when multiple family members or other loved ones disgree over what we would have wanted.
In the most extreme cases, these disagreements have resulted in stressful, expensive and unncessary legal battles that can break up families.
We can help you avoid this, by sitting down with you, finding out what your wishes and preferences are, and then drafting legal documents that will make it clear what you want, what you don't want, and who you want to be in charge of any medical or end-of-life decisions-making.
DOCUMENTS WE CAN DRAW UP INCLUDE:
A MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY, which allows you to select the person(s) you want to put in charge of making medical decisions for you if you should become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.
A Medical Power of Attorney also allows the person you designate to get access to your doctors, hospitals and medical infomation, something they might otherwise be denied under federal HIPAA medical privacy laws.
A "LIVING WILL" (or "ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE"), which allows you to specify exactly what kind of extraordinary medical measures you would want (and NOT want) in the event that you should ever reach the point of permanent unconsciousness (irreversable vegetative state) or have an "end-stage" condition from which your doctors agree you stand no reasonable chance of recovery.
Experience tells us that most people do not want to have their bodies kept going on machines indefinitely if they are terminally unconscious with no hope of a medical recovery. Yet this kind of thing happens every day to people who have failed to plan ahead with the right legal documents.
A NOTE TO UNMARRIED COUPLES: When it comes to couples who are not legally married to each other, it is ESPECIALLY important that they look into having this kind of documentation put in place.
Otherwise, there is the real chance that family members who are not your choice will be put in charge of your medical and end-of-life decision making, and that even a trusted, long-time partner will be cast aside due to the legal presumptions that arise when proper documents haven't been taken care of in advance.