Stephen A. Martin, Attorney at Law
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Making your final wishes known

End of life is something none of us like to think about. Given our own choices in the matter, we all would probably put off anything related to death as long as possible.

If we do that, however, we’re simply passing on the decisions to our loved ones and increasing their pain at our passing. It also means that they may not know our wishes. An advance medical directive, sometimes known as a living will, is the best way to make your final wishes known and ease the burden on your family.

How it works in Missouri

The technical term is a “Health Care Choices Directive” under state law. It spells out in detail the kind of medical care you want to prolong your life as well as the kind you do not. It has to be witnessed by two people.

An advance medical directive is one part of estate planning. This is where you make all of your wishes known should something untimely happen. It is legally binding, meaning that doctors tending to you are bound by it regardless of their feelings.

Special considerations

Many clients have special considerations that they want to have known. For example, the Catholic Church teaches that all life is sacred. That does not mean that extraordinary measures should be used in every situation and many Catholics believe that it is better to pass on than to be kept alive with little consciousness and awareness.

That does not mean, however, that basic food and water should be denied. Unfortunately, many advance medical directives do not make this distinction.

To be consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the advance medical directive has to be very specific as to what efforts are made to prolong life and what are not.

Be clear

No matter what your wishes and needs are, it is never too early to consider putting the down in a legally binding document known as an advance medical directive. Not doing so only passes the burden on to others.

It’s your choice, and you are the one who should make it.

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