End-of-Life Directives: Will You Consider My Religious Beliefs?
Advance directives are not typically a favorite dinner-table conversation subject – but ultimately, preparing an end-of-life directive is in each of our best interests and it is critical to have one in place. An advance directive allows you the opportunity to give direction regarding your care, whether through a living will or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Both of these instruments state your intentions about your end-of-life care, either through a document (living will) or an individual of your choosing who will have the legal authority to make health care decisions should you not be able to do so yourself (Durable Power of Attorney).
Often, religious beliefs are a substantial consideration in drafting an advanced directive. Your religion may have a strong position on various circumstances. For example, how does your belief system handle artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH)? What about individuals in a permanent vegetative state (PVS)? What about resuscitation? What about life-prolonging procedures? As such, some important considerations arise when approaching end-of-life decisions, including:
- Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (ANH): This procedure is commonly known as “tube-feeding,” administered through the nose, throat, esophagus, chest, stomach, or intestine. Sometimes, these procedures will require surgical insertion. At what point do you wish for these procedures to end?
- Permanent Vegetative State (PVS): A diagnosis of PVS can be made when it is impossible by medical expectations that an individual’s mental condition will ever improve. In your advance directive, you should state what you wish to be done should you be in a PVS.
- Resuscitation: When an individual’s circulation stops, death occurs. Unless circulation is restarted quickly, the individual will pass away. One of the decisions you should make in your advance directive is whether you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops.
- Life-Prolonging Procedures: Some procedures (i.e. dialysis, chemotherapy, invasive surgery) may be judged morally extraordinary or disproportionate if they offer no true benefit to the patient. However, you may feel strongly that these procedures should be done. In your advance directive, it is important to define your intended time limit before starting a treatment.
At Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri, our clients come from a diverse set of backgrounds and we understand how their end-of-life decisions can be strongly influenced and shaped by their belief systems. Our experienced attorneys are knowledgeable about current estate planning laws and are equipped to help you create advanced directives that are consistent with your religious teachings and that will honor your true wishes when the need arises. If you have any questions regarding your current advanced directives or are interested in developing a new plan, please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri for further information. The attorneys at Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri have decades of experience handling complex estate planning matters and are more than happy to meet with you for a free, 30-minute consultation.
Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.