Moorestown Living Wills Lawyer
Moorestown Living Wills Lawyer
One of the difficulties with aging is losing control of the ability to make medical decisions for ourselves. Many seniors struggle with cognitive decline or dementia, and they can lack the legal capacity to instruct doctors about their care. The point of modern medicine is to keep patients alive as long as possible—even when their condition is terminal—and many people want to avoid being on life support for an extended period of time.
Fortunately, New Jersey law allows individuals to decide while living the medical care they will receive when they are terminally ill. The Garden State recognizes living wills, also known as an “advance health care directive.” This document does what it says—it instructs doctors and others ahead of time as to what medical care you want and doesn’t want. Speak with a Moorestown living wills attorney at Scott Counsel, P.C. today to learn more.
End Of Life Care
Modern medicine allows doctors to keep people alive on life support for years. However, many people simply want to die with dignity and at peace rather than be hooked up to dozens of tubes when they are terminally ill or have no brain activity.
With a living will, you can identify what treatment you want—and what treatment you do not want. For example, we can use a living will to address:
- Cardiac resuscitation after your heart stops beating
- Mechanical respiration, if you cannot breathe on your own.
- Artificial hydration and nutrition (feeding tube) when you are not conscious enough to eat and drink on your own
- Pain relief
Some clients will want resuscitation and respiration but not a feeding tube. Meanwhile, other clients might want only pain relief, even if that hastens their death.
This is your decision to make. Only you know the type of death that you want. But you can discuss possible living wills with a qualified attorney who will help you understand your options for care.
When a Living Will Goes into Effect
Generally, a living will becomes effective when doctors decide that life support becomes necessary to prevent your death. In other words, without life support, you would die very soon. This is a medical decision that your doctor will make, sometimes in consultation with other doctors. It often happens after a catastrophic accident or in advanced stages of dementia when brain activity shuts down.
Living wills do not apply in other medical situations. For example, you might become sick with cancer and need treatment. However, you are not on the verge of death, so the living will is not in effect.
If you retain the capacity to make decisions, then the living will also is not in effect. Instead, doctors must listen to what care you need. In this way, you continue to maintain control of your medical care.
Differences Between a Will and a Living Will
Though the names are similar, wills and living wills are dramatically different. The last will and testament identify who will be your estate’s executor and who you leave property to. A living will, as explained above, directs doctors as to what life support you want after incapacity or serious illness/injury. Both documents provide peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out when you can no longer carry them out yourself. However, someone with a last will and testament does not have a living will in place. That is a separate document.
Living Wills & Health Care Representatives
Scott Counsel is happy to meet with clients to discuss whether a living will is right for them. Ideally, a living will is part of a comprehensive estate plan and should include the creation of a durable power of attorney to name a health care representative. This person can make medical decisions when you are incapacitated and ensures that your wishes are carried out by doctors.
You can designate your health care representative in your living will. You also decide what powers they will have. Some clients prefer to hand over total decision-making authority to their representatives. Other clients clearly state the treatment they want and don’t want but leave it up to the representative to decide other issues they didn’t think about ahead of time.
We encourage our clients to give some thought before designating their health care representative. For example, they might immediately assume that their eldest child is the best choice. But this child might live in Arizona and not be present at the hospital in a medical emergency. Ideally, you should talk with any possible representative about your wishes for end-of-life care and if they can serve.
Drafting a Living Will
New Jersey provides several fill-in-the-blank templates that some people use to create advance directives. There are risks with this approach, however. Specifically, you might not have thought through what kinds of care you want at the end of your life. An attorney is happy to discuss your fears in a confidential consultation.
Living wills must be witnessed by two people, and you can’t choose someone inappropriate, such as a minor. The risk of creating a non-binding living will increase if you go it alone.
Choosing the correct health care representative is also a key consideration. Remember, this person will make decisions for you when you cannot speak for yourself. In end-of-life situations, tensions can arise between siblings over what care to give Mom or Dad. Some children are resistant that the end is truly at hand and want to use all available means of life support. Working with an attorney allows you to craft advanced directives in such a way that you can reduce the chances of conflict between loved ones during this difficult time.
Dedicated Moorestown Living Wills Attorneys
The legal team at Scott Counsels has several decades of combined experience in the estate planning field. Our lawyers understand that estate planning is so much more than simply drafting a will and will create any advance directives that you want.
Please call (856) 281-3131 today to schedule a time to meet with our firm.
– When my son, who has Cystic Fibrosis and CF related diabetes, was suddenly and unexpectedly removed from his Medicaid program, we were devastated and frightened not knowing where we would get the resources to pay for his extremely high priced prescriptions. Justin was the attorney who handled our case. From the very beginning, he proved to be very thorough and experienced with navigating the process of reversing the Medicaid decision. However, it was his apparent kind, caring nature that made us feel the most at ease. Justin was successful in securing a continuation of benefits for my son, and we are extremely grateful for having his expertise during this most stressful ongoing process. Thank you, Justin!
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