Varnum BlogsToggle Nav
Tailored Living Wills
When I was a paralegal in Colorado, the firm I worked for created a very specific medical health care directive that stated what each person wanted as far as end of life decisions, and if or how long they would want to remain on life support. This approach is fine, unless the client changes his or her mind without changing the document, or the document is so old that the client no longer remembers what he or she chose. At Varnum, our Designation of Patient Advocate and Living Will is very general in its directions on end of life decisions, leaving the decision-making power up to the person you name as your Patient Advocate. Of course, your Living Will can be tailored to your specific needs, but having a general directive allows for you to change your mind without having to change your paperwork, as long as your designated Patient Advocate knows your wishes. If you are a religious person, your faith may direct how you handle end of life decisions. For example, the Catholic church has stated that certain life prolonging measures can be withdrawn if medically assisted nutrition and hydration cannot reasonably be expected to prolong life, would be excessively burdensome, would cause significant physical discomfort, or is not available. I have drafted a "Catholic friendly" Living Will that has been reviewed by a priest. The Jewish faith has also offered guidance to its followers on prolonging life and completing a health care directive. If you are concerned that your end of life directives (aka "Designation of Patient Advocate and Living Will") may not comply with your religious beliefs, you should consult your spiritual leader. If you do not have an end of life directive, Varnum can help you. Our general directive gives your patient advocate the power to choose for you. This "general" document can even be tailored to read that certain spiritual leaders should be contacted when end of life decisions need to be made, or that you have specific wishes you want followed. Whatever your wishes may be, it is best to plan for this time in your life while you are healthy, competent, and able to make important decisions.
(Editor's Note: Attorney Jessica DesNoyers authored this post while working in Varnum's Grand Haven office. Jessica is currently with another firm.)