The pandemic, in reminding us all of the fragility of life, has served as a wake-up call to many to review their planning. With health risks at the forefront of viewers’ and listeners’ concerns, more and more, we’re hearing radio and TV hosts urging their listeners to “get their affairs in order”. More and more, at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, clients are re-evaluating documents they created years earlier.

The two documents that relate to healthcare planning are:

  1. living wills
  2. healthcare powers of attorney

A living will is a legal document used to express your decisions and to make your wishes known regarding medical care and treatment:

  • What medical treatments would you want – or not want – to be used in order to keep you alive?
  • (Dialysis? Tube feeding? Ventilator? CPR?)
  • What choices do you want caregivers or doctors to make if you’re in a coma?
  • What about if you’re in the final stages of dementia?
  • Do you want to donate your organs or tissues?

The concept behind a living will is to relieve family members of the need to speculate (and possibly argue) about what you would have wanted. So long as you are able to make decisions on your own, you continue to do so; the document is there in case, due to illness or injury you are not able to decide for yourself. A living will lets them know what your decisions would have been.

The second part of your advanced directives planning is the medical or healthcare power of attorney. This document actually names a person to make the decisions for you when you cannot. There are different titles that have been given to the person you name, including healthcare agent, healthcare proxy, healthcare representative, attorney-in-fact, or patient advocate. You may also name an alternate in case your agent is unable to serve. Your agent might be a family member or friend. Just as the living will lets other know your decisions, the power of attorney authorizes people to carry out those wishes.

“Indiana law pays special attention to advance directives,” explains the Advance Directives Resource Center, part of the Indiana State Department of Health. At Geyer Law, we believe you should, too! The pandemic is reminding us all of the fragility of life!

– by Cara Chittenden, Associate Attorney at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates