Estate planning requires you to begin preparations for moments in your life you hope will not happen. While picturing yourself in a mentally incapacitated or near-death state is not pleasant, you need to keep in mind that it is still a possibility in the future. In New York, if you do not have a living will or durable power of attorney, then the Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHDCA) will allow your family members or other close ones to make medical decisions for you.
Many New Yorkers do not wish to have their loved ones making these difficult decisions for them. If you do not want your family to stress themselves out over potentially agonizing choices, then you must create a living will detailing your medical wishes if you end up in a mentally incapacitated state. Before you begin, it is important to know what areas to cover to prepare the will as best as you can.
Administration of food and water
Comatose patients require IV tubes in order properly consuming food and water. Some patients may have to live with this treatment for the rest of their lives whether they wake up from their condition or not.
If the treatment is stopped or the patient refuses it on their living will, then it will not take long for them to die of dehydration. There are many areas to consider about this aspect. You need to specify how long you would want this treatment or if you would not want it under certain conditions.
Relieving the pain
You do not want the final moments of your life to be physically agonizing. Palliative care is available for those who want to lessen the pain for those under critical condition.
Similar to the other areas on your will, you need to clarify what symptoms and diagnoses would need to be present in order to place emphasis on pain relief, as certain pain medications can shorten your life in the process. Examples of this include choosing whether you want to die at the hospital or your home, avoiding invasive testing or eating ice chips to minimize dryness.
When to pull the plug
Outside of nutrition and pain treatment, there are many medical treatments for you to consider whether you want them or not. Some of these include dialysis, ventilation, organ transfers, respirators and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR in particular has specialized instructions called the Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) directives. You can specify in the living will which treatments you do not want to receive and can give your doctors or loved ones permission to pull the plug if it gets to certain states.
Estate planning is not just about your postmortem wishes. If you have any preferences for treatments when it comes to serious injuries or diseases, you need to prepare for these situations while you can still think and speak.