WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM UNABLE TO SPEAK?
Shortly after our Constitution was ratified in 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote that “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” His prophecy has remained right on the money for over 225 years, with one important distinction. In 1789 the average American’s life expectancy was 36 years. Today, people routinely live into their 80’s and 90’s.
In the two centuries since Franklin’s prediction, the way that we accept and prepare for the end of life has changed dramatically. To be sure, none of us is promised tomorrow. However, absent unforeseen accidents, we have more control over the circumstances preceding death than ever before. Advances in medical technology have created life-sustaining techniques that make it possible to prolong life far beyond what our grandparents and great-grandparents ever imagined.
When planning for your own end-of-life care
keep in mind that the law respects this fundamental principle: you have complete control and authority to make decisions regarding your body. This includes the right to control the types of medical procedures that are performed on you, the types of medications and nourishment that you are given, and the right to accept or reject certain types of medical treatment.
More importantly, when planning for your own end-of-life care, your inability to communicate your choices does not mean that others must choose for you. You may make these decisions in advance, and record them in a very important document that every adult should have: an advance directive.
Georgia’s General Assembly enacted the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act in 2007, to assist Georgians in making, communicating and documenting their individual end-of-life choices. An Advance Directive for Health Care (ADHC) ensures that the patient or their chosen representative will have the ultimate power of decision in medical treatment. Unlike a “living will” or power of attorney, an ADHC requires a healthcare provider to comply with the patient’s individual wishes.
In addition to ensuring that your wishes are carried out, an advance directive serves another valuable purpose: an advance directive relieves your family from the stress and worry of wondering whether they are doing what you would want, if a situation occurs where you cannot speak for yourself.
If you need assistance in drafting an advance directive, Parker and Lundy would be honored to assist you with this, or any estate planning concerns. Just call our office at 770-749-9030, or use the “Contact” button on this website to send us a secure, confidential request for a legal consultation.