ESTATE PLANNING: End of life decisions merit serious thought

2013-09-28T15:56:00Z ESTATE PLANNING: End of life decisions merit serious thoughtChristopher W. Yugo Times Business Columnist
September 28, 2013 3:56 pm  • 

Pull the plug. It's one those phrases that has made it into daily lexicon. Sometimes it's the punch line in a sitcom. Other times it's phrased as a question asked during an uncomfortable conversation with a parent. Sometimes it's a statement made to an attorney who is trying to help a client plan his estate. I hear it a lot.

Whatever the circumstances that bring it up, end of life decisions aren't nearly as funny as we like to pretend. Making a decision about the care that you wish to receive at the end of your life merits serious thought.

Perhaps the best way to express your end of life decisions is to execute an advanced medical directive. An advanced medical directive is simply a document in which you express your desires regarding what medical care you wish to receive in the event you are unable to tell them yourself.

The most common advanced medical directive is the living will. Sometimes folks use the term DNR (do not resuscitate) when referring to a living will but the truth is a DNR and a living will are not the same thing.

In the event that you are terminally ill, death will occur within a short period of time and receiving medical care will only prolong the dying process, a living will allows a person to direct that medical care be withheld. A living will doesn't apply to the things are meant to keep you comfortable during the dying process. Rather if providing medical care is futile, you have the right to stop the care.

The flip side of the living will is the life prolonging procedure declaration. This type of declaration allows a person to direct that all medical care available should be provided to delay death. It's the "I ain't going without a fight" declaration.

Another decision that merits your consideration relates to artificially supplied food and hydration. It used to be a time when all of my clients said "no thank you" to the food tube. Then we watched that lady in Florida take two weeks to die after the tube was removed. Now people are a little more thoughtful about it.

If you have appointed a health care representative either under a health care representative designation or a power of attorney, there is someone who can make these decisions for you. However, personally, I want a say and I hope you do to.

Just "pull the plug" may be funny in a sitcom but trust me, it's far less funny when it's your family discussing it.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Christopher W. Yugo is a Crown Point attorney. Address questions to Yugo in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN, 46321 or to Yugo's information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant or estate-planning specialist.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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