Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Let's Make A Living Will!

It's easy! It's fun!

No, I lied. It's not all that easy, if you want to do it right. And it's probably not a terrible lot of fun, given the subject matter. But with the government making a beeline toward ever more invasive legislation to limit your options, it has become an important issue for many people. And because of that, having a living will drafted and executed, ready to be adjusted over time according to one's changing needs or perspective, can be an essential safeguard to peace of mind and an infinite kindness to the people you love.

The first thing you must do decide what it is you want. Explore the many scenarios that could happen, and ask yourself how you would want to be treated in those circumstances. For comprehensive info, turn to the American Bar Association's Consumer Toolkit, which includes tests to help users establish criteria for treatment or non-treatment. Also helpful is The Living Will: A Guide To Health Care Decision Making, which takes a broad overview and divides it into easily comprehensible steps. Elder Options of Texas, also offers definitions of advanced directives, DNRs, living wills, and durable power of attorney.

When you know what kind of care you would want under most possible circumstances, you'll need to choose a document in which to memorialize your wishes. These can include a Do Not Resusitate order and/or an advanced directive (a/k/a living will). A sample living will can be found here, at Free Legal Forms, and another here, at The People's Lawyer. A simple example of a DNR order can be found here. Remember: each state may have different laws as applied to these forms, and you must do the legwork to be sure of being in compliance.

The next step is to sit down with the people who will have to carry out your wishes if the worst happens, and tell them what you want. This includes your physician and your loved ones, and any person you may choose to act on your behalf as a health care proxy or with power of attorney. Don't just throw out a casual comment and expect that it will be remembered or will hold up in court.

We know how that works out.

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