Alice and Paul received information that they mother was in a coma in their home hospital. Alice had been with their mum when she was sick a few years ago, and during the illness, the mother had communicated to Alice about her philosophy regarding being kept alive when she was in a coma. The sad thing is that she had not left behind a written document telling the world what she wanted to be done.
As per her requests, Alice asked the attending physician to have her mother’s life support machine turned off, something that didn’t go down well with Paul.
Paul insisted that he wanted his mother’s life support to be maintained, maybe out of the guilt he was feeling after being away from home for so long. If their mother had put this down in writing, things would have been better.
Almost every state that you will stay in has a living statue that allows you to state that you don’t want to be kept alive using medical procedures that have been known to keep people alive for longer.
You have heard of stories where the family has been forced to “pull-the-plug” because the person was in a vegetative situation. You might wonder whether you need a living will if you have a POA, but truth is that the latter works when you can’t make decisions, but the living will determines what happens when you are next to death.
The Role of the Living WillIf after you sign the living will you are unable to talk due to a certain condition, this document talks on your behalf. The document tells the attending physician to stop life-sustaining procedures according to a set of triggers.
The document is legally binding, which means that the physician doesn’t incur any liability for doing this.This document is applicable only in specific situations p when you are suffering from a terminal condition and you are unable to communicate. In this case, the physician is instructed, according to the document, to stop providing any type of are that might prolong life. Well, the physician is free to offer care that serves a different purpose, such as pain reduction.
You can come up with the document at any time you want, and then update it as time goes by. The only downside to this document is that you might not be ready for any eventuality, reason why you also need to have a POA on standby.
The living will needs to have a date, sign and have two witnesses. The witnesses must be adults that aren’t on the beneficiary list.
Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders
You might think that you have everything covered in the living will and POA, but doctors have gone against these directives in the past.
This is when you need a DNR. The DNR is prepared by the attending physician upon request from the patient or the POA. The DNR represents the last directive on use of life sustaining techniques.
Preparation of a DNR
The doctor only issues the DNR when you are extremely ill- not when you are fit. Make sure to have the DNR displayed prominently where other people can see it.
While most states require the doctor and other health staff to honor the DNR, other states require medics that offer care outside of the hospital settings to try and make sure they prolong life to the maximum.
You can decide to donate your organ for medical research or to use as a study aid.
One of the ways to dictate how this works out is to include the directives in the POA. Many of the POA documents detail how this should work.
You can decide to donate the whole body or just a few organs to science. Don’t forget to tell your family about this, because some families have a long-standing tradition of burying bodies, which might make it hard for them to accept your wishes.
The inspiration behind this decision is the suffering of many people around the world that need donor organs without success. The sad thing is that many young people feel that they have a whole life to live, and therefore don’t bother about organ donation at all. But accidents do happen anytime, and through your organ donation, you can help someone, even when you are departed.
It takes a strong heart to come up with these documents. It is advisable that you talk to your estate planning attorney to guide you on what to do when coming up with these documents.