The decision as to whether to end a relative’s life support is perhaps one of the hardest decisions a person can ever make. It was recently reported that the family of 12-year-old Zachary Reyna, who was suffering from an infection from a brain-eating amoeba, made the heart-rending decision to take him off life support and donate his organs.
Because Zachary was a minor, his parents were able to make this decision for him. However, as an adult, no one will be able to make decisions for you, unless there is a court order or you have given them this authority by naming them in your advanced directive for healthcare. An advanced directive is a document whereby you ensure that decisions regarding your medical care are made in accordance with your wishes, in the event you become incapable of giving those instructions yourself.
Under Oklahoma law, an advanced directive is comprised of three components — a living will, a healthcare proxy appointment and instructions as to anatomical gifts.
A living will allows you to specify how you would like to be treated in a given situation. There are potential three situations governed by a living will:
You could, for example, direct that if you have one of these conditions, you do not want to receive any life-sustaining treatment, such as artificial nutrition and mechanical ventilation.
A healthcare proxy is someone you appoint to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, if you are incapacitated. Situations may arise that are not covered by a living will. For example, your proxy may choose one of several treatment options proposed by your doctors. You should therefore appoint someone you trust to make decisions in such circumstances. You should also appoint an alternate proxy, in the event that your first choice is unable or unwilling to act.
You can specify whether, at the time of your death, all or part of your body may be used for transplants, therapy and the advancement of dental or medical research, science or education.
You can change or cancel the directive at any time. Although generic forms are available, these forms may not comply with your specific wishes. Speak to an experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorney who can prepare a document tailored to your specific wants and needs.
Arrange a consultation with an experienced attorney at Butler & Flynn PLLC for a personalized solution to your estate planning needs.