Imagine this scenario: You are in great shape and have always led a healthy lifestyle, but one day out of the blue, you suffer a massive heart attack. Luckily, paramedics get to you quickly and rush you to the emergency room, where a team of doctors is doing all they can to treat you. Unfortunately, nothing is working, and a ventilator is now assisting you. Those same doctors ask your family to make advanced healthcare decisions, but no one knows your wishes.
Your sister thinks you would want the doctors to keep trying, but your wife vaguely remembers you saying, “never keep me on life support.” Everyone is stricken with grief and guilt over potentially making the wrong decision.
In Chapter 5 of my book, Who Gets Your Stuff When You Die: 14 Secrets For Protecting Everyone You Love And Everything You Own, I explain that this is where making the right advanced healthcare decisions is important. Already having the right documents in place would make a world of difference when you suddenly cannot think or speak for yourself. Instead of your family not knowing your wishes, they’d be armed with the following information:
- Where those documents are
- What your specific wishes are
- Who is in charge of making these decisions, and
- What doctors should do next
Directive to Physicians and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
When it comes to making your advanced healthcare decisions known, two important documents to have are a Directive to Physicians and a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR). Many people get confused about the difference, so here’s a good example that ties in similarly to the scenario above.
I have a Directive to Physicians. If I have a heart attack, I want you to call 911, and I want them to do CPR. If, after doing CPR, the doctors say that they can put me on a ventilator, but there is no hope of recovery, I don’t want to be put on life support. If the doctors say that they can put me on a ventilator, and I may recover, I want to be put on life support in that case.
Conversely, a DNR would tell the paramedics not even to perform CPR in the first place.
In each instance, the document carefully details out my wishes, so there shouldn’t be any questions moving forward regarding my care. With that said, each option should be carefully weighed and discussed with your family beforehand.
I always encourage my clients to have the hard conversation with their family about what situations they would want life support in, and under which situations they would not want life support. This allows individuals the opportunity to let personal decisions be known while also giving family members the chance to come to terms with choices that are different from their own. The harder it is to have the conversation, the more important it probably is to have it.
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC today!
Sometimes, even when people are prepared to make the appropriate advanced healthcare decisions for their loved ones, they fail to have those papers on them when they are needed. We provide our clients with a health emergency card that gives doctors and hospitals access to the healthcare documents so that they know who has been appointed and how to get in touch with them. Please call Leigh Hilton PLLC so that we can help ensure your family will be taken care of in the best way possible.
Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning need. We look forward to serving you.