How do you want to die?
Let's assert that you're almost certainly not going to be the very first person to live forever.
Also worth noting that you're probably going to die of natural causes.
The expectations we have for medical care are derived directly from marketing and popular culture. Marcus Welby and a host of medical shows taught us about the heroic doctor, and more than that, about the power of technology and intervention to reliably deliver a cure.
It's not a conspiracy--it's just the result of many industries that all profit from the herculean effort and expense designed to extend human life, sometimes at great personal cost.
Hence the question: Do you want to choose whether or not you will be a profit center in the ever scaling medical-industrial complex? One percent of the population accounts for 30% of all health care expenditures, and half of those people are elderly.
Most of that care is designed to prolong life, regardless of the cost, the pain or the impact on the family. A lot of doctors are uncomfortable with this, but they need you to speak up and make a choice (in advance) about what you'd like. Some people want the full treatment, intervention at all costs.
If that's your choice, go for it. But be clear, in writing, that you'd like to spare no expense and invest in every procedure, even if it's pointless and painful. Don't be selfish and let someone else have to guess.
On the other hand, you have the right to speak up and stand up and clearly state if you'd prefer the alternative. Many people prefer a quiet dignity that spares them and their family pain and trauma. But you have to do it now, because later is too late.
The web makes it easy to generate and sign a simple generic form. Or even better, go find the forms state by state. (If those pages are down, try a search on "health care proxy" and the name of your state.) [A reader also suggests MyDirectives.] [And consider the Five Wishes.]
There are two critical components: assigning an individual to be your health care proxy, and then telling that proxy, in writing, what you'd like done (and not done) to you when the time comes.
If every person who reads this sits down with his or her family and talks this through (and then tells a few friends), we'll make a magnificent dent in the cultural expectation of what happens last.
It's free, it’s not difficult, it takes five minutes. Do it today if you can, whatever your wishes are. Don't make the people you love guess and then live with the memory of that guessing.
Some things are more likely to happen if you plan for them. In this case, the end comes whether you plan for it or not. Planning merely makes it better.
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Seth is right. You need to plan. We are here to make sure you do it right and your family has the guidance they need when you can't be there. Form documents can’t do that. Your family deserves more.
Contact our Lake Norman estate planning office, mention this article and we will prepare a free health care proxy for you at the conclusion of your Family Wealth Planning Session. The regular $750 fee for the planning session will be waived for the first 3 to book with us in Cornelius this month.