Even though a lot of people realize that they need some kind of advance health care directive, commonly referred to as living will, they rarely get around to making one. According to survey figures, only about 20% of American adults have created some kind of advance directive.
Yet when it comes to these important legal documents your doctor is more than three times as likely to have created one. Studies show that about 64% of physicians have some kind of medical directive. These legal documents set out your choices about the kinds of medical care you will want to receive should you become unconscious. They’re typically made to address situations where, for example, you have a terminal illness and want to refuse heroic measures such as CPR.
The stark difference in the number of people who have an advance directive and the number of doctors who have one can be, at least in part, attributed to the practical knowledge that doctors have when it comes to modern medicine.
Doctors know that, for example, CPR is effective in a very small number of cases. One large survey looked at 95,000 cases where CPR was performed and found that in only 8% of the cases were people able to live for a month or more. A much smaller group, only 3% of that 8%, were able to go on and lead a somewhat normal life.
Regardless of whether you want heroic measures or not, a medical directive is the only way to ensure that your wishes are followed.
In California, an advance health care directive is an integral part of a comprehensive estate plan. The place to start is to consult with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney.