Keep That Advance Care Directive Handy

9:53 pm Estate Planning

medical2 e1319059290620 Keep That Advance Care Directive HandyA recent post at the New York Times’ New Old Age blog reminded us of something we hear about all the time: the panicked scramble to locate an advance care directive when it is needed.

The post gave several examples of modern-day mishaps in misplacing this critical document, but this one rang especially true:

An elderly nursing home resident was brought to the hospital in serious decline.  His friend, whom he had given financial power of attorney, thought she also was his health care proxy, but that proved to be untrue.

The elderly man had appointed his out-of-state brother and sister-in-law as his health care proxy.  The brother had already died (which should have necessitated an update to his advance directive), but the sister-in-law was still alive.  The law firm that had executed the documents was contacted for a copy of the directive, but it couldn’t fax a copy because the man’s attorney carried it around in his briefcase and he was unavailable.

Meanwhile, the ICU staff was asking whether or not to put the man on a ventilator and were kept waiting until the lawyer could be located several hours later.

Lawyers’ offices and safety deposit boxes are popular places for people to put their advance directives – and both are useless in an emergency when time is of the essence.  Instead, give copies of your advance directive to  all your physicians as well as the person(s) you have named as your health care decision-makers.  Keep a copy at home and let your family members know where they can find it.

If you don’t have an advance care directive, you need one.  Contact our Costa Mesa law firm to get this handled for you and your loved ones.

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