Make a Living Will and Hope You Never Need It
Practically every person in Texas and many more around the world know the story of Marlise Munoz, the Texas woman who was taken off life support last month, even though she was pregnant with a living fetus. The hospital she was taken to after her husband found her unconscious insisted on keeping Mrs. Munoz on life support, while her family sought legal help to force the hospital to end medical treatment.
The Munoz family based its decision to discontinue life support on doctors' reports that Mrs. Munoz was brain dead and the baby could not survive on its own due to numerous abnormalities, including hydro encephalitis and a serious heart condition. Mr. Munoz is reported to have said his wife would not want to be kept alive under those circumstances.
On the other hand…
Contrast the Munoz family's wishes with those of the case of Robyn Benson of Victoria, British Columbia. Mrs. Benson is also brain dead and pregnant. Mrs. Benson's husband, Dylan, and her doctors are trying to keep her alive until they can deliver the baby via a C-section. Doctors believe the Benson baby is growing normally.
Mrs. Benson's husband and her team of doctors plan to discontinue life support after the Benson baby is delivered by C-section.
What would happen in your family?
These stories should make us wonder whether our family members really know for certain what we would want if we were on life support and not expected to regain consciousness. What if several family members have different opinions about what we would want? What if the hospital respectfully declines to follow a spouse's instructions, as in the Munoz case? Are your family members prepared to go to court to fight for the right to honor your wishes?
Put your decisions in writing
The best way to have peace of mind about these questions is to prepare a living will, which is also known as an advance medical directive or health care advance directive. In your living will, you can set forth specific instructions and designate one or more agents to speak for you. A living will allows you to make your wishes known — and relieves your loved ones of the burden of deciding whether to end life support or continue with medical intervention.
The attorneys at the Peterson Law Group have significant experience helping clients develop comprehensive end-of-life plans, including living wills to direct family members and doctors in the worst of situations. Contact an experienced Bryan, Texas estate planning attorney at the Peterson Law Group by calling 979-703-7014 today. Don't put it off another day.
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