Ky Living Will Attorneys Lexington Advanced Healthcare Directive Lawyers
It’s easy to focus on the day-to-day shuffle and not look ahead to the future. Even those of us who enjoy being organized often are not adequately prepared for life’s challenges.
Yet, taking the necessary steps now to outline a plan in the event your health is compromised is not only wise, it offers unparalleled peace of mind. The rules of estate planning as it relates to healthcare are complex and can be difficult to understand, so it is best to consult an attorney.
The Fayette County living will attorneys at Bunch & Brock are familiar with every aspect of advance healthcare directive issues. We are an estate planning firm committed to providing each of our clients with personal attention and real solutions. We take the time to fully understand your situation and discuss your options. We encourage you to contact our office by calling 859-254-5522 or filling out this online form.
Why Do I Need Advanced Directives?
Many people think of estate planning as solely about wills. While drafting a document encompassing someone’s property distribution wishes is an important aspect of estate law, it’s only one piece. Another important piece addresses end-of-life medical treatment issues and is a good idea for everyone to have, regardless of age, health condition or financial status. Advance healthcare directives allow you to make decisions regarding your future medical care that reflect your true values and desires at a time when you are able to envision it from a healthy point of view.
Strides in medical technology now mean that severely or terminally ill patients can be kept alive in prolonged, painful and expensive ways, yet studies report that many people would refuse aggressive medical treatment if that meant their lives would have poor and limiting prognosis. Advance directives are a group of written instructions that list the actions to be taken for a person who is no longer able to make healthcare decisions because of illness or incapacity.
As long as you are able to express your own decisions, your Living Will is not used and you can accept or refuse any medical treatment. It is solely intended to speak for you if you do NOT want life-sustaining care. It removes liability from medical professionals for following your medical care wishes to not be kept alive artificially. To be invoked, a physician must determine that you are no longer competent and certify in writing that you are in an end-stage medical condition or a persistent vegetative state.
In Kentucky, you can use a Living Will to:
- Designate a Healthcare Surrogate
- Refuse or request life-prolonging treatment
- Refuse or request artificial feeding or hydration (tube feeding)
- Express your wishes regarding organ donation.
You may appoint a healthcare surrogate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are in a situation where you can’t make them yourself. The surrogate must follow any directions and limitations you specify in your Living Will, and you should discuss your wishes with them. Only in the absence of directions are they allowed to decide what life-prolonging treatments are to be withheld or withdrawn, taking into account what decision would be in your best interest.
To be valid, a Living Will must be signed in front of two witnesses or in front of a notary public. Your witnesses cannot be blood relatives or anyone who would inherit your assets; your physician; an employee of a healthcare facility in which you are a patient; any person financially responsible for your healthcare; or anyone precluded from being a surrogate. Once you have signed a Living Will, make sure that your loved ones, your healthcare surrogate, physician, attorney and any other healthcare providers know that you have an advance directive. Be sure to tell them where it is located or give them a copy.
A healthcare proxy is similar to a healthcare surrogate designation except it can be executed on its own. You can appoint a proxy (surrogate) without signing a living will. Although it is sometimes referred to as a “durable power of attorney,” it concerns only medical care and is not to be confused with the very separate “durable power of attorney for finances.”
Do Note Resuscitate Order (DNR)
An advance directive may be completed as to your wishes regarding DNR status, which means that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will not be performed on you if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. Resuscitation includes, but is not limited to, mouth-to-mouth, direct cardiac injection, intravenous medication, electrical defibrillation, and open-chest cardiac massage. A DNR can be included in your medical records and, by itself, does not address the withdrawal or withholding of any medical care other than resuscitation.
Be aware that if you do not execute a Living Will, do not designate a healthcare proxy, and then find yourself in a situation where you are unable to make your own medical decisions, the law has defined the people who may do so. In Kentucky, that includes your judicially appointed guardian (if medical decisions are within the scope of the guardianship), your spouse, your adult children, your parents and your nearest living relative.
We Can Help
Having an experienced, caring attorney is extremely important in order to avoid some of the pitfalls and to navigate the complexities that arise in crafting a solid estate plan. Not having the proper documents in place can leave your loved ones with heavy burdens. For the past 35 years, the Lexington health directive attorneys at Bunch & Brock have efficiently and effectively guided many people through the process of drafting advance healthcare directives. Let us help you determine what is best in your situation. Contact our office by calling 859-254-5522 or filling out this online form