When it comes to end-of-life planning, one of the more daunting tasks can be to talk about your end-of-life arrangements and who will make the hard decisions when you cannot do so. As a probate attorney, I can share a few key pieces of advice to help make this process easier.
Talk to Family
The process starts with talking to your loved ones and being honest about what you would like to happen as you reach the end of your life. Be clear and help them understand your feelings about where you want to live, what treatments you are okay with, and what you’d like to happen after you die. Lay everything out and encourage them to ask questions.
Designate the Right Person
Once you have talked with your family, make sure they understand and respect your wishes. When contemplating who your advocate will be, it is vital to make an informed decision by choosing the right fit. Being a loved one does not always qualify them to be your healthcare surrogate, especially if they are too emotional to handle the full responsibility of this role. The ideal candidate is someone who knows you and your wishes and will honor them. These decisions are emotional and directly affect the progression of your medical care. It is beneficial to have a primary healthcare surrogate as well as an alternative. Here are a few things to keep in mind before designating someone as your Healthcare surrogate or Proxy.
1. Someone close to you, such as a spouse/partner, close family member, or friend
2. Someone local who can be at the hospital or facility quickly
3. Someone trustworthy and dependable who will honor your wishes
4. Someone assertive and strong-willed, who’s not afraid to ask questions and speak on your behalf
5. Someone capable and competent to make the hard choices, such as when to withhold treatment or decline resuscitation
It is essential to include a list of people who cannot or should not make healthcare decisions for
you. Some people may not be comfortable or able to make these choices, leaving you vulnerable.
End-of-Life Care Planning in Six Steps
As we age, our needs and desires change. As we approach the end of our life, it is crucial to have
a solid plan in place to see that our needs are met, and desires are carried out. It is critical to
remember that other considerations, such as social care, spiritual care, and support for family and
friends, should also factor in. For caregivers and loved ones, this is a very emotional time.
1. Discussions as the end-of-life approaches
Open, honest communication
Identifying triggers for discussion
2. Assessment care planning and review
Agreed care plan and regular review of needs and preferences
Assessing the needs of caregivers
3. Coordination of care
Coordination of individual patient care
4. Delivery of high-quality services in different settings
High-quality care provisions in all settings
Acute community care homes, extra care housing hospices, community hospitals,
prisons, secure hospitals, and hostels
5. Care in the last days of life
Identification of the dying phase
Review of needs and preferences for place of death
Support for both patient and caregiver
Recognition of wishes regarding resuscitation and organ donation
6. Care after death
Recognition that end-of-life care does not stop at the point of death
Timely verification and certification of death or referral to coroner
Care and support of caregivers and family, including emotional and practical
An advance directive documents your wishes concerning medical treatments, procedures, medications, and use of medical devices. You will designate someone as your healthcare surrogate or proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf. In this role, they could decide when to withhold or decline life-sustaining treatment. Our firm can walk you through a comprehensive checklist giving you peace of mind that nothing is left to chance and your desires are clearly laid out.
Living wills are often included in an advanced directive but are more limited in scope. Like advanced directives, this documents your desires regarding certain life-sustaining or life-saving procedures and designates someone responsible for speaking on your behalf.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney grants an authorized representative the power to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are physically incapable of doing so.
Organ donor forms
Body donor forms
Schedule a FREE Consultation with our Experienced End-of-Life Planning Attorneys
Every & Stack has dedicated over 40 years to helping clients and their families. We provide comprehensive knowledge and experience, giving you peace of mind that everything will be taken care of and that your wishes are well documented. Schedule a free consultation today at 386-255-1925. Let us help you develop a plan that works for you and your family.