In most cases, when you’re admitted to a hospital, you dictate the type of medical care you receive. Problems crop up if you’re so badly injured that you’re no longer able to communicate. That’s when loved ones are responsible to step in and make medical decisions. This can be an emotional roller coaster and many people choose to create a living will in advance to insure their wishes are honored in the event they are unable to advocate for themselves.
The subject of living wills was brought up more than 10 years ago when a Florida case involving Terri Schiavo made headlines. When a routine medical procedure resulted in her lapsing into a vegetative state, there was a great deal of debate about who was responsible about making medical decisions for her, including the decision to remove her feeding tube.
The case sparked a great deal of argument and the matter was debate throughout the Florida court system, eventually making it all the way to the Supreme Court and was discussed at the White House and in Congress. Situations like this are always tragic and they have the ability to rip a family apart.
Prior to the Terri Schiavo case, most people assumed that as long as they told family members about their wishes, things would be handled should they not be able to answer medical questions for themselves. We now know that it’s not a simple matter.
The only way to remain in control of major medical decisions if you lose the ability to communicate for yourself is by drafting a New York City living will. This is a type of will that handles matters while you’re still alive, but unable to care for yourself. The living will, which are sometimes referred to as Health Care Directives (HCD), Advance Care Declarations, or Health Care Power of Attorney, is a very detailed statement that includes a wide array of information about who the medical team is allowed to speak to, the type of medical treatment you want, and how long the treatment should continue.
Issues addressed in an New York City living will include:
- The types of medical procedures you want to have performed and which you don’t find acceptable
- The type of medications that can be used to treat your medical conditions
- How painful/intrusive the treatment may be
- The artificial methods that can be used to sustain life
When you create your New York City living will, you can decide if you want to leave certain aspects of your care to a health care agent or proxy who will provide answers to questions/situations that weren’t anticipated when you drafted the living will. Most people choose a spouse or trusted child. Keep in mind that in addition to being asked to make life saving decisions for you, the same person might also have to make the challenging and emotional fraught choice to cease medical treatment as well. Before naming them your health care proxy, confirm that they’re up to the challenge.
If you need assistance filing a New York living will, Pulvers-Thompson can help. Our experienced attorneys will help you think through your options and draft a legally binding document that insures your wishes are honored.