Fitzgibbons Law Offices - Casa Grande and Maricopa Lawyers



Ann Schrooten, Casa Grande Estate Planning and Probate Attorney


Fitzgibbons Law Offices
1115 E. Cottonwood Lane
Suite 150
Casa Grande, AZ 85122

Golden Corridor Living

This article appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Golden Corridor Living Magazine

Estate Planning

April 2015

Life Care Planning and Advance Directives

Advance Directives allow others to follow your directions regarding your health care and include a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

Life care planning is an important task for all of us, whether young or old, healthy or facing challenges. People of all ages can make their wishes known about what kind of medical care they want (or don’t want) if they are unable to give instructions.

Advance Directives allow others to follow your directions regarding your health care and include a Heath Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate another person as your agent to make health care decisions for you if you are incapable of making your wishes known. The person you designate is empowered to sign consents, discuss health care issues with the care team, obtain second opinions, secure nursing home placement, and take similar actions. Your agent may be a family member or a close friend whom you trust to make serious decisions. The person you name should clearly understand your wishes and be willing to accept the responsibility of making medical decisions for you.

A Living Will is used in conjunction with a health care power of attorney and sets forth your wishes regarding the extent of life-sustaining treatment you desire at the end of your life. A Living Will provides guidance about your general philosophy, ranging from “I do not want any life-sustaining treatment beyond comfort care” to “I want my life to be prolonged as long as possible.”

If you do not have advance directives in place, Arizona law gives decision-making power to “surrogates,” primarily in order of kinship. The order is your spouse (unless legally separated), your adult child (if more than one, the majority available for consultation), one of your parents, your domestic partner, a brother or sister, a close friend. Without a Living Will, your surrogate will not know your wishes. A surrogate cannot disconnect a feeding tube; only a Health Care Power of Attorney or a guardian appointed by a judge can make that decision.

In a case that focused national attention on advance directives, Terri Schiavo was in her 20s when she had her catastrophic collapse. Unfortunately, she did not leave written instructions expressing how she would like to be cared for if something happened to her. Because she did not leave instructions, the courts had to intervene. Further complicating matters, her family did not agree on what her wishes would be.

By taking the proper steps now, you can ensure that your wishes are known. Life care planning is a gift you can give to yourself and your family.

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