Why End of Life Decisions Matter and Should Be Taken Care of Before it’s Too Late
End of life decisions can seem like a daunting task. No matter your age, questions concerning burial wishes, prolonging your life, and how you want to die can be difficult to process. However, you don’t want to put pressure on your loved ones to try and make these tough choices after you pass away without any direction.
So how can you make the right preparations to prepare your family after your death? Regardless of your age, here are some documents you can take care of now:
The Death with Dignity Act (S.C. Code § 44-77-10, et. seq.) outlines all requirements for a living will or, as it is referred to in South Carolina, a “Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death.” This is a relatively simple and short document where you can state what kind of end-of-life treatments you want or don’t want. A doctor will only use this document if you are unconscious or unable to give instructions for your wishes.
Health Care Power of Attorney
This document outlined in S.C. Code § 62-5-504 allows for more specific requests and has more flexibility than a Living Will. It allows you to name any type of treatment or procedure you don’t want and specific care you want to receive. Health Care Power of Attorney requires you to name an agent who is given the authority to make decisions and direct doctors about treatments to give you if you are incapacitated. As you might have already guessed, this agent needs to be someone close to you that you trust to make such serious decisions, and who knows what healthcare procedures matter to you. It is also recommended that you appoint an alternate agent in addition to this person in case your first choice is unable or unwilling.
Is It Smart To Have Both Documents?
The short answer is yes, as long as both documents are consistent with each other in what your wishes are. If you would like a simple document to have done now, the Five Wishes document is considered legal in South Carolina. This allows you to state your emotional, personal, spiritual, and medical wishes as well as the person who will make these decisions on your behalf.
If you are overwhelmed by all these major decisions, hiring an attorney or talking with your healthcare provider can make the process much simpler for you and give you peace of mind that you have taken all the necessary steps.
You must be competent to sign any of these documents, so we highly recommend you get these done as soon as possible. They will make future situations much easier on your family in the future.