Living Wills provide instruction about health care decisions when you are unable to.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to consider how your life would be affected if you contracted the virus. We hear all the time that only a small percentage of cases require hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, or death. However, estate planning is meant to plan for exactly those types of situations.
Check your Living Will
If you have a living will, you have a written document reflecting your desire for care in the event you fall into an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state. Your living will indicates whether you want life sustaining treatment in that case, or if you would instruct the doctors to withhold CPR, artificially administered food and fluids, and if you would like to avoid the hospital setting.
COVID-19 presents a new problem
In an article for NPR, Martha Bebinger explained that some COVID-19 patients who were placed on ventilators “remain unconscious for days, weeks or longer”, identifying the problem as “a ‘prolonged’ or ‘persistent’ coma or unresponsiveness.” Ms. Bebinger continues, stating “doctors who are studying the phenomenon of prolonged unresponsiveness are concerned that medical teams are not waiting long enough for these COVID-19 patients to wake up, especially when ICU beds are in high demand during the pandemic.”
Your Living Will provides peace of mind
As noted in the article, families faced with those tough decisions seek any guidance available. A well drafted Living Will lets family or friends and doctors know what care you want in different situations and how long you want that care to continue. Knowing that you’ve considered your options and that you will be given the care you want is a relief in trying times. As cooler weather draws people inside, the demand for ICU beds can be expected to go up.
If you need to update your estate plan or draft new plan that includes a Living Will, we are always happy to help protect your health and wealth. Contact us to schedule an appointment. Visit our website for more information.