The pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives. The pandemic has also resulted in significant changes for estate planning, which includes how people think about advance health care directives. Often, these directives specify the type of medical care that patients would like to or do not want to receive in case they are not able to communicate.
These documents also serve the invaluable role of expressing the specific approach that patients would like towards life-saving measures. Many times, advance directives are used in combination with living wills, which appoint a health care proxy to make decisions in case a person is incapacitated.
The Unpredictable Nature of the Coronavirus
Tragically, during the coronavirus pandemic, many people are admitted to the hospital without loved ones present due to concerns about how the disease will spread. The most serious COVID-19 patients are as a result at a significant risk of having their intent overlooked by medical professionals.
Additionally, the trajectory of the virus varies greatly, and often there is not a large window in which to treat a person. By having an advanced healthcare directive in place, however, a person can greatly increase the likelihood that their intent is known.
Assumptions Can Change
During the pandemic, many people have discovered that their approach towards the type of medical care they would like to receive if they end up incapacitated has changed. As a result, it is a good idea to review advance directives. You might even decide to distinguish between the type of care you would receive during the pandemic and other illnesses.
This might mean that you are more optimistic about treatments for COVID-19 but not other illnesses. Given the limitations on patient visitation as well as the increased presence of telehealth appointments, it is a good idea to consider if your current healthcare proxy can perform in the necessary capacity.
Consider the Role of Ventilators
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the question of whether or not you would like to receive ventilator care a pressing one. Ventilators are machines that help people who cannot breathe on their own do so, which is a common occurrence in the most serious COVID-19 cases. While ventilation is often invasive, it is also often life-prolonging.
While ventilators appeared to be a critical tool for care in the first months of the pandemic, recent studies have shown that a small percentage of people who need ventilators due to COVID-19 end up surviving. Deciding whether a ventilator is right for you is a critical decision that requires a careful balancing of all the facts on hand.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Advanced health care directives are not written in stone. As a result, it is a good idea to keep these documents up to date to make sure that they reflect your end-of-life wishes. One of the best steps that you can take to make sure that you have the best advanced health care directive is to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer. Contact attorney Jim A Lyon today to schedule a free case evaluation.