Is a DNR right for you?

An important part of estate planning is planning for end-of-life care. Legal documents that tell both your family and your doctor the type of medical care you want if you’re unable to do so yourself are called advanced directives. Advanced directives describe the type of treatment you want depending on the severity of your illness or medical condition. Advanced directives could apply if you’re in one of the following situations:

  • In a coma
  • Terminally ill
  • Seriously injured
  • Suffering from severe dementia

You can also make use of an advanced directive to let your family and doctor know the kinds of treatments that you don’t want to have.

A Do Not Resuscitate order or DNR order can be part of an advanced directive. A DNR order is a request to forego CPR, chest compressions, electric heart shock, artificial breathing tubes, or other invasive procedures if you’re heart stops or if you stop breathing.

To do this, you can use an advanced directive form or tell your doctor your wishes. He or she will put the DNR order in your medical chart.

Make your wishes be known now

Advanced directives can consist of a living will and a durable power of attorney for healthcare. The living will or health care directive describes your wishes regarding such issues as medical treatment, pain management and palliative care, end-of-life care, and organ donation. Your living will goes into effect should you become unable to make your own decisions.

A durable power of attorney for healthcare allows you to appoint a person of your choosing, such as a spouse or family member, to make healthcare decisions for you if you should become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. This legal document goes into effect when your physician states that you’re no longer able to make your own decisions regarding medical care and treatment.

Advanced directives need to be in writing. Each state has its own forms and requirements for creating these types of legal documents. In the state of California, any resident over the age of 18 and who is mentally competent can complete an advanced directive. Two qualified adult witnesses or a notary public are required to sign off on the document.

Doctors orders

Many people think that having some type of advanced directive is only for older adults and the elderly. However, end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it’s important to plan ahead. By being proactive, you can ensure that you’ll get the medical care you want and can avoid burdening family and friends with having to make difficult healthcare choices on your behalf.

At the Law Office of David W. Foley, our San Diego estate planning attorneys can help you draft a living will as well as a durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions. A DNR order can be included in a living will and, if you’re admitted to a hospital, will become part of your medical chart.

If you need legal advice about end-of-life planning, contact our law office today.

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