Trust and Estate Counsel

Tennessee Estate Planning Law

Insight and commentary on estate planning issues impacting affluent residents of Tennessee

End-of-Life Medical Decisions

Coping with the death of a family member or friend is one of the most difficult emotional challenges we ever face. The challenge is magnified for those who must make end-of-life medical decisions for their loved one.

The attached article, His Own Private Death Panel: We Pull the Plug on Dad, by Ira Rosofsky in Psychology Today, gives a realistic view of the decisions that must be made on behalf a person who is nearing the end of his or her life. In the article, two children eliminated a slim chance of recovery for their father by deciding not to give him a feeding tube.

I was recently told by the son of one of my clients that his father’s Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney made matters much easier with the hospital as his father was dying. His father had told his children that he wanted to die quickly when his time came. Accordingly, the children told the doctors not to use heroic measures to keep their father alive for a few more days.

A Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney can certainly help, but there is no substitute for having frank conversations with those who will be faced with making decisions for you. You need to have these conversations while you have your full faculties. If you avoid these conversations, the decision may not be what you would have wanted. Furthermore, the decision makers are more likely to feel guilty about their decisions for a long time.