Living Wills and Difficult End-of-Life Decisions

We recently came across an informative and touching article about end-of-life decisions, in which the author followed the emotional stories of a few different families. The article gives rich insight and into what families wrestle with when a relative falls ill and it may be getting close to the end. The article explores when the ‘end’ really is, and how, with so much new medical technology in the last 100 years, the lines have been blurred.

All of our clients complete a living will that is part of a broader health care power of attorney tool. This allows each client to designate someone (a relative, friend, etc) as their health care agent, who will be authorized to make all decisions regarding personnel, treatment, facilities, etc. and who will also be the guardian of the client’s wishes.

A living will is not a perfect document by any means, and in many cases today, it is difficult to determine when nothing more can be done to keep someone alive. 

We recommend that you have a clear living will with your preferences for end-of-life decisions, and also choose an agent that you completely trust and who will make rational decisions even in a time of great emotion. Sounds easier said than done. However, this is what we counsel clients on day in and day out. If you have not done comprehensive planning, we suggest you schedule a complimentary appointment today by calling (215) 706-0200. 

In the meantime, here is the article link: Letting Go: What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?
Appeared in The New Yorker, August 2, 2010