Many people are reluctant to discuss their end of life wishes. Unfortunately, unexpected health problems like a heart attack often occur before the issue is forced out into the open. When an aging parent or other family member suffers a health scare without an advance care directive in place, it can potentially make already tough decisions even more unbearable for loved ones.
According to the AARP, nearly three-fourths of Americans have not created an advance care directive. An advance directive is a written document designed to clarify an individual’s wishes with regard to medical care in the event of incapacitation. In the State of Wisconsin, a Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will, or Declaration to Physicians, is the only recognized types of advance care directives.
Advance care directives are not just for the elderly or infirm. Anyone over the age of 18 should make their wishes clear to protect loved ones from the guilt, anger, fighting, and indecision that can arise following the unexpected incapacitation of a family member. News cases such as the tragic and bitter seven-year battle between Terri Schiavo’s husband and parents in Florida further highlight the need for every person to create a living will. Although Schiavo entered a permanent vegetative state in her 20’s and was unable to communicate, her loved ones could not agree regarding what type of medical measures she would have wanted. An advance care directive would have outlined her wishes and protected her family members.
Many Wisconsin residents fail to consider the importance of creating an advance care directive until they are in the midst of a medical emergency. Sometimes, individuals will not consider putting their end-of-life wishes in writing until they find themselves in a hospital setting or answering questions posed by health care professionals. Others don’t think about choosing a health care decision-maker until they prepare other legal documents like a living trust to transfer their assets at death.
Anyone can become incapacitated by an unexpected accident, brain aneurism, stroke, or a variety of other causes. By failing to create a health care power of attorney and living will, a person who becomes incapacitated may be subject to health care decisions he or she would not have chosen. If you would like to make your medical and end of life decisions known to your relatives, it is a good idea to speak with a capable estate planning lawyer to help you create an advance care directive.
Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC, can help you provide peace of mind to your loved ones by establishing an advance care directive. Our experienced attorneys assist clients with a range of estate planning tools including health care documents, trusts, wills, powers of attorney, insurance, and more. To request a consultation to discuss your estate planning goals and how to achieve them, submit our online form.