Advance Directives

Last month I was asked to speak at a retirement conference on the need for everyone to have an Advance Directive. An Advance Directive is a combination of powers of attorney for medical decisions and a living will. The powers of attorney names an agent who will make decisions for your medical care in the event you are incapacitated. The living will provides guidance to your medical providers in the event your condition is diagnosed to a defined medical state such as terminal or persistent vegetative state. The seminal case on the lack of a living will involved Terri Schavio in Florida which ended up before the Congress in 2005 in an effort to get her case before the Supreme Court. However, the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion was upheld and their opinion is available on-line. Most states have an advance directive form available on-line or you can fill out the form at the hospital. However, preparing the Advance Directive does require some serious considerations and your attorney can assist you in understanding how those decisions can impact your medical treatment. As a practical matter access to the form is a problem as it needs to be available in the event you end up in the hospital. Our office recommends a service that provides you with a wallet card showing access to an on-line depositary where your Advance Directive is stored. We use the company, Legal Directives, to provide this service and feel that ensures your wishes are carried out.

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