Living Will in Arizona

Living Will in Arizona

Our Scottsdale Arizona Estate Planning Attorney discusses the Use of a Living Will with Advanced Medical Directives in an Arizona Estate Plan.

What is an Arizona Living Will With Advanced Medical Directives?

A Living Will in Arizona is a document containing a person’s directives regarding medical care that person refuses to receive in the event that person becomes incapacitated. An Arizona Living Will contains what is commonly referred to as Advanced Medical Directives because they contain a person’s “directives” that were made in “advance” of that person becoming incapacitated.

As the United States population ages and the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement age, the topic of late-life care is becoming one of increasing importance. More and more people are facing the prospect of ending up in a hospital bed being treated for some type of degenerative disease or terminal illness. In fact, one out of five Americans dies in a hospital intensive care unit, while up to 60 percent of the population dies in a hospital.

In addition, between 25 and 35 percent of Americans die in nursing homes. Many of these people end up being incapacitated by their illness, to the point where they can no longer speak for themselves. When this happens, it is left up to their loved ones to make crucial choices about what types of procedures to use and how long to continue providing care to keep the patient alive, decisions which can be overwhelmingly difficult to make for another person.

Those who are thrust into this position often spend the rest of their own lives wondering whether they made the right choices. You can spare your family members the necessity of making decisions about your end-of-life care by making use of the estate planning instrument known as the advanced health care directive along with a medical power of attorney. This document, which is also referred to as a living will is used to lay out clear instructions for the nature and extent of treatments you would choose to receive in the event that you are incapacitated by a major illness or serious injury.

It makes it possible for you to voice your preferences when you are unable to speak for yourself. In addition to describing your wishes, it can also be used to appoint a person whom you trust to make the right decisions for you should an event arise which is not provided for in the terms of the document.

What Does An Advance Health Care Directive Address?

An advanced health care directive is normally written in such a way that it comes into effect when the individual is incapacitated by a terminal illness, has fallen into an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state, or is suffering from brain damage or dementia.

It is important to ensure that the document is precise, unambiguous and comprehensive so that it fully addresses anything which is likely to happen and answers all the questions that your loved ones and your doctors may have about how to care for you. The document can address such issues as feeding tubes, comfort measures, the use of narcotic painkiller medications and the extent and duration of life support to delay a death which has become inevitable.

A thorough Arizona estate plan should include a Living Will to ensure a person’s wishes regarding his or her medical care are respected and, as importantly, to relieve family members from having to make those difficult decisions during a stressful time, which will potentially decrease the amount of disagreement between family members regarding those decisions.

Of course, we cannot anticipate every medical situation that may occur in the future and, therefore, we cannot address every medical situation we may encounter in the future. A well-drafted Arizona estate plan, therefore, should also include a Health Care Power of Attorney.

What is a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney?

An Arizona Health Care Power of Attorney sometimes referred to as a Durable Medical Power of Attorney, allows someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. However, the medical decisions made by the person you appoint cannot be inconsistent with the Advanced Medical Directives you designated in your Living Will.

Please feel free to contact one of our Arizona estate planning attorneys today by calling (480) 947-4339 if you have questions regarding estate planning or are in need of assistance in drafting your Arizona estate planning documents.