Have you spoken to your parents about dying? Have they told you what they want to happen if they get seriously ill and have to go into hospital? It’s a tough conversation to have, but so were many of the most important conversations you’ve had in life.
These are some of the things your parents need to consider:
- Do they want to prolong dying if it is inevitable?
- They do want to be resuscitated if they stop breathing or their heart stops?
- Do they want to donate their organs, body parts, or tissues?
- Do they want pain relief at any cost? Even if it kills them sooner?
- Do they want intravenous fluids and food if they cannot take them by mouth?
They can make these choices now. Or they give someone else the power to take these decisions for them. These are the ways to ensure their wishes are carried out:
- Appoint a Health Care Agent: Your parents appoint someone to decide on their behalf when they no longer can. Ideally, it will be a family member who lives close to them. They can select an alternate agent as a backup in case the primary choice is not able to cover their role for specific reasons.
- Create a Living Will: Unlike some other states, New York does not have a law governing living wills. Yet, the Court of Appeals in New York said they should be accepted as long as they are “clear and convincing.” Your parents can use a living will to explain to the chosen health care agent how they want to be treated. Anything they do not specify, the agent will have to decide themself.
An experienced attorney can help your parents lay down their wishes in the correct legal manner. Planning for healthcare is an essential part of estate planning.