Monday, October 13, 2008

Why You Need a POA and a Living Will

Another who finds the Schiavo case instructive is Expecting the Unexpected from GLBT Couples Law. Stephen Hyland explains the case quite well:

"In March 2005, the public became aware of the dramatic struggle involving the life — and death — of Terri Schiavo. Terry was a young woman whose heart unexpectedly stopped, resulting in extensive brain damage that left her in a persistent vegetative state. For over 5 years, Terri's husband, Michael and her parents waged a battle in the courts, in the legislature, and in the press over the question of who had the right to determine Terri's wishes regarding her medical care. Ultimately, Terri's husband prevailed, as legally he should have, the feeding tube that maintained her was withdrawn, and Terri died on March 31, 2005. Regardless of your personal feelings about Terri's situation, it is important to understand the underlying reasons this particular case played out in such a contentious manner.

Like many adults in the U.S., Terri left no written indication of her wishes regarding her medical care. As a result, the various family members fought with each other for the right to impose their interpretation of Terri's wishes. Sadly, Terri's case would long ago have been resolved had she executed a set of advanced directives — specifically, a 'living will' and/or a medical proxy designation."
For GLBT couples, for others living together, and for married couples, you do need a power of attorney, a health care power of attorney and a living will. Do not think the costs are high. They are actually pretty minimal. Far less expensive than the costs of not having them.

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