Now that tax day has come and gone, it's time to think about your emergency healthcare decisions.
Proper prior planning can prevent future decision-making problems during a medical emergency.
"If people want to have the decisions made by somebody they've selected and that they trust and who knows who they are, advanced planning is the way to do it."
Attorney Benjamin Adams urges everyone to prepare for end-of-life treatment options by talking about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers. And most importantly, get it in writing. Adams says competent people are legally entitled to receive or refuse treatment, but what if you can't make your own decisions?
"Then, unless you have an advanced directive the only way decisions can be made is through the courts, through a guardianship proceeding, which involves usually two or three attorneys, the judge, various medical providers and reports, and the decision-maker might not even be somebody that you know."
Adams reminds us of Terry Schiavo , who made national headlines when her family members simply could not agree on medical decisions and they ended up in the courts. Adams says in many cases, decision-making by family members with consensus is a smooth informal process with the doctors. However, it's not always that easy in second marriages with adult children or with unmarried committed couples and other family members. Adams suggests you download a free guidebook : A Gift to Your Family. It's available for a limited time on the Wisconsin State Bar Association Website.
"It has discussion topics that families and potential agents should talk about in advance so that if you have to make a decision for someone you at least know enough about them to be comfortable that you're making the right decision."
Also, Adams notes, most hospitals and doctors offices have the forms available.
NOTE: Wednesday, April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day.