Being Specific in Your Health Care Directive
Health Care Directive.
“I don’t want to be hooked up to tubes and machines.” This is one of the most common wishes for people who are trying to vocalize their end of life wishes. However, tubes and machines don’t always mean it’s the end of the patient’s life. While creating a health care directive, you need to be specific — medically specific — so as not to leave vague instructions that could mean unnecessary stress or legal actions.
While you should consult with an estate planner to create a comprehensive health care directive, you might also consider consulting with a physician. Health Care Directive need to be created through a series of realistic scenarios, and you need a coordinated effort between your doctor and your lawyer to make sure you wishes are reflected in your end of life instructions.
Often, people are very uncomfortable when discussing end of life health issues. In order to shorten the conversation, they will use broad, vague statements (like to one above) to avoid the painful conversation. Your lawyer can give you a set of questions that you can review with your loved ones and your doctor.
Keep in mind, tubes and machines aren’t just a way to keep you alive — they keep you alive to help you get better. Two months on a machine might mean another ten years alive.
It’s critical to review the questions and the answers with your family. They might be surprised at your decisions, but it’s better to discuss your answers now, in person. Then, your answers feed into your estate plan creating a comprehensive health care directive. The process can take several weeks and generally will involve several conversations. So, start now.