Image from a Journal of Musical Things

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

On October 2, 2017, music fans around the world sobbed when legend Tom Petty died.  Fans received the admittedly surprising news that Petty suffered a heart attack and was quickly taken off life support. Petty’s family made this decision so quickly because they followed a do-not-resuscitate order put in place by the musician.

Much like Petty, all of us can benefit from a plan for our end-of-life care.  A well-thought-out plan can save your family money and heartache.

According to a 2010 study, Medical expenses in the last year of life average about $11, 618.  With inflation, we can estimate those expenses would be closer to $18,000 today. For families requiring nursing home or assisted living facility care, this number can be much higher because monthly averages for these facilities run from $4,000 – $6,000 per month.

Advance Directive for Healthcare

One important document to help you make your end-of-life care plans is an Advance Directive for Healthcare.  Only 26. 3% of adults admit to having this undeniably important document.

An Advance Directive only goes into effect when the person who made the document is incapacitated.  That means he or she is unable to make decisions for him or herself.

In Oklahoma, if you do not have this document in place, no one is legally able to make medical decisions on your behalf and/or withhold life-sustaining treatment.

The Advance Directive will memorialize your wishes in different situations regarding life-sustaining treatment, allow you to choose a proxy to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to, and determine if you would like your organs and other body parts donated or science or transplantation.

Do Not Resuscitate Orders

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders are often used by patients who are already suffering from serious illnesses. The patient, or agent for the patient in certain situations, indicates his or her wishes medical staff not try to resuscitate the person if they are in need of CPR. Healthy people will likely not want a DNR.  Healthy people will want to get CPR if they are in a life-threatening situation.

Durable Power of Attorney

Durable Powers of Attorney (DPOA) allow people to choose someone to help them with medical and financial issues, either immediately, or after they can no longer care for themselves. The agent chosen by the person creating the document can stand in the creator’s shoes to take care of matters on the creator’s behalf. The extent of the agent’s powers are outlined in the document itself. If you choose to have your DPOA go into effect immediately, you can override your agent’s decisions, unless you are incapacitated.

Without these estate planning documents, your family will wind up in Court, doing the best they can to make these decisions with a Judge’s supervision. If you have any ideas on how you want your care to go, and who you want to help, you need a plan. It is always wise to work with local attorneys instead of filling out online forms when making end of life care plans.

Local attorneys generally do not charge much more and they can walk you through the documents to help you understand them and tailor them to meet your specific needs.  They will usually also have a copy of your plans on-hand in case your family is unable to find your documents.