Create a Living Will

Are you confused about how to get a health care proxy and create a living will?  You have a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment. I’m not talking about assisted suicide or anything, but you can refuse medical treatment, say I don’t want to be kept alive by machines. The problem is how do people – how do your doctors know what your wishes are if you never put it in writing? It has to be in writing. It can save your family a lot of grief and money with having to keep you alive if you never put any of these wishes in writing because the hospital many have to keep you alive indefinitely if you never put that in writing. How old should you be to get a healthcare proxy? I say people of all ages, in their 20s, should get healthcare proxies. A couple of the most famous cases about healthcare proxies were women in their 20s; Karen Quinlan, who was in a coma for a long time from an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol, and Terry Schiavo, who lingered for 11 years. She’d lost all nerve function, and the poor woman had to be known by what we saw on TV, all hooked up to machines for many years as her ex-husband and her family fought whether or not she should be disconnected from life support because she never had anything in writing.

Create a Living Will | Combined with Healthcare Proxies

We do a combined healthcare proxy living will. Healthcare proxies are created by New York legislation in which you designate an agent and an alternate agent to make healthcare decisions for you. The living will be your specific instructions about what you do or do not want. It may be a very small number of people say on their living wills they want everything possible taken. Most people say if I’m in a coma, if I have a terminal illness or non-terminal illness such as later stages of Alzheimer’s where you lose the use of your faculties, your organs, I don’t want to be kept alive. Most people want that, and that’s designated in your living will.

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The other thing the healthcare proxy cannot speak for you on is whether or not you do not want tube feeding or artificial hydration. That has to be in writing. Your healthcare agent cannot say that I was told – my understanding is that he or she does not want tube feeding. That has to be in writing to have them disconnect, discontinue tube feeding or artificial hydration. You should have a healthcare proxy, and more importantly, you should know where it is; it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know where it is.  You should give it to your doctor when you go to your doctor visits along with your agent.

Create a Living Will | Organ Donor

Also in the living will, we have designations here for donating organs. You can do that in your HIPAA authorization. Everyone knows what a HIPAA authorization is; when you go to your doctors you designate who can have access to your medical records. Ironically, your healthcare agent does not have access to your medical records and really can’t speak with your medical providers unless you’ve provided a HIPAA authorization with your doctors. Also, we provide HIPAA authorization in our living wills that we prepare. The healthcare proxies have to be witnessed by two people, we notarize them too because some other states require notarization. Unfortunately, each state has its own laws regarding powers of attorney and healthcare proxy, which is unfortunate with such a mobile population, with people living in various states and so forth. Usually, other states will honor our laws. If you do move to Florida or whatever, you should probably have your will revised; there’s quite a bit of difference in the laws regarding community property in so on.

Are you looking to acquire a healthcare proxy?  Are you looking to create a living will?  If so, contact the experienced Buffalo Estate Planning Attorney Robert Friedman.

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