Comprehensively Planning for Your Health Care in the Event of Incapacity.
Planning for incapacity is an important component of the estate planning process. This is true regardless of your age, health, and family status. If you are alive, there is a chance that you could get seriously injured or fall ill unexpectedly; and, if this happens, you need to make sure that your health care providers and loved ones have the guidance they need to make informed decisions in line with your personal wishes, wants, and preferences.
Health care surrogate designations and living wills are fundamental components of a comprehensive life plan, but they can also leave certain questions unanswered. Additionally, health care providers sometimes have questions about their enforceability, and any ambiguities (or even perceived ambiguities) can leave your doctors and family members unsure of whether they are moving forward as you intended. As a result, in many instances, it can be beneficial to prepare additional components of your life plan dealing with potential incapacity as well. With this in mind, here is a brief overview of three planning tools we routinely discuss our clients:
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
Do Not Intubate (DNI)
1. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
Florida’s standard Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order contains a simple statement: “Based upon informed consent, I, the undersigned, hereby direct that CPR be withheld or withdrawn.” Many people are familiar with DNRs from television, movies, or real-life experiences, and their basic concept is simple enough: If you are unable to breathe on your own, no life-sustaining action should be undertaken. Not everyone will want to sign a DNR; but, if a DNR reflects your wishes, then signing one can provide clear direction in the event that you become nonresponsive due to a medical condition.
Importantly, a DNR form can be signed by a patient directly or by his or her surrogate, power of attorney, proxy or court-appointed guardian. As you prepare (or update) your designation of health care surrogate or living will, this is something that you will want to keep in mind.
2. Do Not Intubate (DNI)
As its name suggests, a Do Not Intubate (DNI) form instructs your health care providers not to intubate you should a breathing tube become necessary in order to sustain your life. A DNI is not the same as a DNR, and individuals may need to sign one or both depending on their personal desires.
3. Chemical Code
A Chemical Code provides instruction to your health care providers to treat you with medications only. This is true even if a medication is most effective (or is only effective) when administered in connection with another medical procedure. Due to their limitations, Chemical Codes should only be signed by individuals who have a clear and comprehensive understanding of their implications.
To be clear, we are not recommending any of these documents as tools that should automatically be included in an estate plan. But, if you, or someone you love, may be thinking about whether signing a DNR, DNI or Chemical Code is the right decision, it is important to be aware of the options that are available and the benefits and limitations that each of these options entail.
Speak with Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer Mark F. Moss
Do you have questions about DNRs, DNIs or Chemical Codes? For a confidential consultation, please call 904-329-7242 or inquire online today.
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