Whether you’ve been thoroughly prepared for a long time, or you’ve been thrust into the situation by a suddenly ill loved one, making health care decisions for someone else can be a very daunting responsibility. There are so many questions and angles to consider, and there seems to be so little guidance. Worse, especially when you are making the decision just because you are the next of kin and not because you have been granted legal power of attorney by your loved one, there is often opposition, regardless of which decision you make.
So where do you start? First and foremost, start with your sick loved one and any documents they may have left to direct you. Check with their attorney to see whether they have a living will on file. A living will, sometimes called an advance directive, is a legal document used to inform health care providers and family members alike of a person’s wishes concerning their medical treatment should they become unable to speak for themselves. If they do have a living will on file, then you should make every effort to follow this document exactly. That way, when making health care decisions for someone else, you’re actually making the decisions that they themselves would make.
In the absence of a living will, you will have to take special care to consider your loved one and what they would want if they were able to decide. Think back to any conversations you may have had with them regarding their health and their preferences. Have they expressed a particular view of being kept alive on machinery? If you cannot remember, it may be wise to ask their other family and friends. Their input may assist you in making any decisions, although you still have one more avenue of assistance.
With or without a living will, because making health care decisions for someone else is so difficult, you may want to ask for the help of a qualified attorney like Ms. Mindy Felinton of Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers. If you need extra help honoring both your loved one and the law, there are few better than Ms. Felinton, who is very experienced with handling such delicate cases with skill and care. Give her office a call, and she will help guide you through these serious matters while keeping you on the right side of the law.