Hopefully all of you timely filed your tax returns by April 15th. As I noted in this blog, I think a review of your estate plan is a great thing to do each year after tax season to help establish an annual routine. A few weeks ago I gave a general overview of health proxies. When you are reviewing your documents this spring make sure your Living Will is up-to-date.
As you might recall, a health proxy allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf when decision making capacity is lost. If known, your agent will take into consideration your beliefs. However, if your beliefs are unknown to the agent then your agent will make decisions according to your best interests.
A Living Will (a.k.a. “Advance Directive for Health Care” or “Health Care Declaration”) is a great complement to a Health Proxy because it allows you to memorialize your religous and/or moral medical care beliefs. For example, some people want to make it clear that they do not wish to have life-sustaining treatment that prolongs the process of dying while others favor all available life-sustaining treatment.
Your Living Will should be as specific as possible. The document should note your views on artificial nutrition and hydration, cardiac resuscitation, mechanical respiration, antibiotics, pain medicine, and any other medical issue you want to address. Your views on these issues may change throughout your life so your Living Will should be periodically reviewed along with your other estate documents.