Do You Have A Health Care Directive In Place Yet?

In a medical crisis, there are often important decisions for doctors and family members to make such as:

  • Should extraordinary measures be taken to attempt to resuscitate a person having a heart attack or other disabling medical event?
  • Should a person be given a blood transfusion or nourished through a feeding tube?
  • Should the person be "brought back from the edge" of death even when that means he or she will likely be seriously disabled?

A health care directive or advance directive can specify a person's own preferences with regard to such questions in a legally enforceable document. A durable power of attorney for health purposes gives a particular person the ability to make decisions.

A Look At Some Famous Cases Highlighting The Importance Of A Health Care Directive

Several famous cases illustrate the importance of health care directives and powers of attorney for health purposes, including:

  • Terry Schiavo, a young woman in Florida who was in a permanent vegetative state after her heart stopped for unknown reasons: Her husband contended he was following her wishes by seeking to have her feeding tube removed. Her parents disagreed. The result was a protracted legal battle played out before the news media that got prominent elected officials involved, including the governor and the president of the United States.
  • Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of singer Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, who was in a coma after she was found drugged and face-down in a bathtub: She never regained consciousness, and died only after her aunt, Pat Houston, and her father, Bobby Brown, agreed to remove her life support six months later.

Both of these prominent cases highlight the decisions about life support that many families face in times of medical crises. High health care costs, quality of life considerations, family dynamics, doctors' advice and documented preferences of the person in crisis are all considerations that may come into play. A well-crafted health care directive enables each of us to make decisions about our own health care wishes in advance of a crisis.

Ask A Central Arkansas Estate Planning Lawyer To Help You Create Or Revise Your Health Care Directive

A health care directive is often called a "living will" because it allows a person while still living to spell out how he or she prefers to be cared for if a time comes when he or she cannot make those decisions consciously. At Rippy, Stepps & Associates, we provide estate planning legal services. Our attorneys also offer practical advice such as where to keep a health care directive and how to ensure family members will know how to apply it in a time of crisis. Call 501-358-3932 or email us to request a consultation with no further obligation.