Advanced Calculus   1 comment

Advanced Directives.  My parents completed living wills or advanced directives many years before they died.  Their living wills clearly delineated what their wishes were in the event of a life-threatening event or illness.  Appropriately, they discussed the living wills with my sister and me and we were named as executors.  Despite all of this advanced planning, we ran into trouble with my mother’s living will.

My mother had given her living will to me and I had promptly taken it to Virginia and put it in our safe deposit box – per her instructions.  When I went to New Jersey to take her to the hospital for what turned out to be the last time, I neglected to bring it with me.

My mother was really on the ball and she knew that we needed to bring the advanced directive with us to the hospital. Luckily, she produced a copy of it! We turned it in at the hospital and they put it in a binder with my mother’s name on it. As my mother’s condition deteriorated, my sister and I were poised to make some medical decisions and we instructed the hospital to follow the advanced directive which clearly outlined our mother’s wishes.  It was then that they informed us that the copy which we submitted had not been executed or to put it in English, it was unsigned and therefore null and void.

We then began a series of tortured calculations to determine how we might get the signed copy.  My husband could get it from our safe deposit box in Virginia and either drive it or FedEx it to me.  Alternatively, we could speak with the in-house hospital lawyers during regular business hours to essentially create a new living will.  When you are in a situation where minutes or hours matter, having the original FedExed or talking to the hospital lawyers really doesn’t cut it. As it turns out, we never needed to invoke the living will.

Tips: Keep the signed copy of the advanced directive with your parent and in a place that is easily accessible to you and them. Put it in a folder with all other important medical documents and have it handy for doctor’s visits and hospital check-ins.

Information found on this web site is for general informational purposes only based on personal experience and should not be construed as legal, tax or other professional advice. You should consult an experienced attorney , tax professional or financial advisor concerning your particular factual situation and any specific questions you may have.

One response to “Advanced Calculus

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  1. When I had my Aunt under my care, the visiting nurse advised me to tape her Directive/Living Will on the wall above her bed. That way, anytime we had to call for emergency services, they could read and know if there was a do not resusitate notice for her.
    The one time I had the nurse right there with me and we had to make a critical decision, we called the ambulance to take my Aunt to the hospital. As I drove behind, I suddenly remembered the Living Will. I prayed fervently that she would not live out her life in a vegitative state because of my failure in an emergency.
    Even when we know there is a directive, in the emotion and fear of the moment, we can forget their instructions.
    As it turned out, my Aunt lived another three weeks and my younger Aunt was able to fly in to be with her, but I always thought of what could have happened.
    Save yourself the nightmares and just post the patient’s instructioins above their bed – at home, or in the hospital.

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