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Getting Comfortable with Healthcare Advance Directives

March 6, 2014 by Kristine J. Bouaichi, Managing Partner | Steven R. Latterell, Partner
Getting Comfortable with Healthcare Advance Directives

A recent story on NPR highlighted the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin (approx. pop. 51,000) where 96 percent of the residents who pass away have healthcare advance directives in place.  This is compared to about 30 percent for the general population.
Are you as comfortable as the La Crosse residents with having an advance directives conversation?  Here are some thoughts and tips to help you get started.
1.         Naming a representative to make healthcare decisions for you if you are not able to communicate those wishes on your own is essential regardless of your age.  This directive makes clear who you wish to be your spokesperson for these important decisions and can reduce confusion and delay if the unexpected occurs.
2.         After you work with an attorney to designate a healthcare representative, it is essential that a copy of that document be sent to your healthcare providers to maintain with your records.
3.         When naming a healthcare spokesperson, you should talk with him or her about your preferences related to healthcare matters and end-of-life decisions.  If you feel strongly about certain issues, your representative should know so that he or she feels more confident in carrying out your wishes.
4.         A living will declaration does not mean that there will be a rush to "pull the plug."  Rather, it is written evidence of your wishes for end-of-life decisions, and is designed to provide guidance to your healthcare representative and attending physician who would confer about your healthcare options and chances of recovery before a decision is made.
When you and your loved ones are ready to prepare your healthcare advance directives, legal representation can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out when the time comes.  For more information, contact a member of the Trusts and Estates Group at Ice Miller.

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