As with a Last Will and Testament we can find ourselves in a predicament where important medical and healthcare decisions need to be made at any given time. It could happen either by an automobile accident, injury working, or as time goes by in old age. Before July 1st, 2007 you could have had a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney to provide your written instructions and avoid the default rules of the hospitals and the law. There are default rules that apply as we are under a hospital’s care and that the law will follow if we haven’t given any instructions ourselves. The State of Georgia legislature has provided a solution for those that do not want to let the hospital and law default rules make these important decisions for them. On July 1st, 2007 Georgia put into effect the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare. This document essentially combines the benefits and options of a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney into one document. You have the benefits of both as later described and can keep a copy with your will and give copies to your doctor, hospital, and your Power of Attorney agent.
Before July 1st, 2007 you could and can have a Living Will written for you to make decisions then concerning the medical decisions that happen at the end or near the end of our lives. Some of these decisions are if/when you want the “plug” pulled or which medical treatments to continue such as tube feeding, respirator, or liquids in the event you are still alive, but medically deemed a “vegetable” or loss of brain function that is highly likely irreversible. The document that provided this instruction to loved ones, doctors, and hospitals is called a Living Will.
Also you could of had a Healthcare Power of Attorney, which gave a certain individual and backup individuals powers to make healthcare decisions for your medical treatment in the event you are unconscious, or deemed unable to have capacity to make those decisions yourself. As all Power of Attorneys, they are only valid until the death of the grantor of the Power of Attorney. You choose someone you trust that would be able to make medical treatment decisions for you as well or even better than you could if you were able.
We have all heard the stories of those that are in these situations and since they had no Living Will and/or Healthcare Power of Attorney the default rules applied. (See the Terri Schiavo story) One being that medical professionals and hospitals have a duty to keep you alive as long as possible no matter the circumstances. They cannot choose to let someone die or at least do not simply do whatever nearest loved ones desire or what the loved ones believe or know what you would want done. They need legal written instructions to take action in some other way than their default rules.
Give our office a call or send us a message if you would like more information about the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare or would like to setup an appointment to have yours done today.