Death with Dignity
Kurtz & Peckham, PC lawyers can help you draft a “living will” or “advanced medical directive” that allows you to express your wishes about limiting medical measures that could be taken to save your life. Please see our section explaining Living Wills.
Advanced Medical Directives
Kurtz & Peckham, PC can help ensure that your wishes are followed by health care providers.
Planning for your health care in the event that you become unable to make decisions can be a very confusing process. Kurtz & Peckham, PC has the experience and knowledge necessary to assist you in planning your health care decisions in advance.
At Kurtz & Peckham, PC we will:
- take time to discuss your needs
- help you make informed choices based on your own belief systems and personal values
- help you give comprehensive and individualized instructions for others in the event you cannot make health care decisions
- carefully craft documents to ensure that your individual needs and wishes will be respected
- explain the differences between the various types of directives and tailor documents to fit your individual needs.
Introduction to Advanced Medical Directives
Kurtz & Peckham, PC can help you and your loved ones prepare the advanced medical directives that fit your needs.
Advanced medical directives are legal documents in which patients express their wishes about the kind of health care they want to receive should they become unable to make their own treatment decisions.
Advanced directives are a step forward in patient self-determination. For them to work, you need to consult with your family doctor and with your family or friends about what your wishes are so that they will know your wishes when dealing with medical personnel.
The primary types of advanced directives are the living will and medical durable power of attorney.
The Living Will:
This is a written document that specifies what types of medical treatment are desired if you become incapacitated as a result of a terminal condition. The living will only deals with situations in which two doctors agree that the patient is terminally ill or has a non-curable condition.
Individuals generally use the living will to instruct relatives and physicians not to use extraordinary efforts to prolong their lives through artificial means in the event of a terminal condition.
Medical Durable Power of Attorney:
This is perhaps the most useful and practical advanced directive. The medical durable power of attorney allows you to decide in advance who you want to make medical decisions when you are no longer able to express those wishes directly to your doctor or family.
The medical durable power of attorney applies to all situations that are not specifically covered by the living will. It could include a situation as simple as being temporarily unconscious after a bike accident or as ethically complex as determining when or whether to use life support systems of any kind.
Through this type of advance directive, you name someone else (called an “agent” or “attorney in fact”) to make health care decisions for you pursuant to your wishes.
This is different from a general durable power of attorney, which allows an individual to make bank transactions, sign Social Security checks, apply for disability, or simply write checks to pay the utility bill while an individual is medically incapacitated.