This is a fun topic for a Monday right!? Seriously though, DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney legal forms can be confusing. Yet as we get older we need to consider them. If not for ourselves, for our own parents who are aging.
My research has proven that there is no singular set in stone form for any of these. I thought for sure there would be. Considering the importance of such forms one would think that there would be one legal document. Or at least one legal document for each state.
I have looked at tons of documents from the most basic to the most elaborate. What I have discovered is that I pretty much want to create my own.
First, let’s discuss why you would consider each form.
Note: I am not a medical doctor, nurse, or any kind of medical expert. I am also not a lawyer. This information is based on my own research and experiences. Please discuss these forms with your own medical practitioner and lawyer.
DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney The Basics:
DNR or Do Not Resuscitate:
Simply put a DNR means if you are in need of any form of resuscitation such as CPR.
This is a form that has to be prepared prior to an emergency that would require CPR or other forms of resuscitation.
You can obtain them online or from your doctor.
If you obtain one online your primary care doctor should have a copy on file as well.
They do need to be notarized if not signed by your doctor.
I have found both types of forms online.
The kind that requires your doctor sign them and the kind that does not require this but does need to be notarized.
To me, it just makes sense to go for the one your doctor is directly involved in.
Durable Power Of Attorney:
This document gives power to a designed person or people to make medical care decisions for you should you be unable to do so for yourself.
This is important should you become mentally or medically unable to make sound decisions or any decisions at all.
By having a Durable Power of Attorney you are allowing another person to make not only medical decisions for you but also decisions that may impact financial decisions for you and your family.
My experience is that this form is the simplest of all.
It is very clear what you are singing which is nice.
You are allowed on some forms to assign only one person while other forms allow for alternates.
I prefer the later as my mother is my POA but as she is older than myself it allows others to make these decisions should she be unable if something happens to me.
This form does have to be notarized.
Living Wills have nothing to do with your belongings, your business, or money.
A Living Will is for the sole purpose of appointing someone to make medical care decisions for you.
It’s similar to a DNR except it goes well beyond resuscitation.
The Living Will outlines specific medical instructions to be applied if you are alive but are unable to communicate your wishes for yourself.
Such as if you are on a ventilator or receiving tube feeding to be kept alive.
Again there are various versions of this form available online.
I prefer the forms that allow for more personalization such as check boxes for things I would or would not want done to preserve my life.
This form also should be notarized.
All Of Your Forms, DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney should be on file with your primary care physician.
Now, let’s discuss the pros and cons of DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney:
A DNR is often considered by those with an end of life condition.
If you do not want your life prolonged and have specified so in a living will.
DNRs are good if you are already in a delicate physical state, such as many elderly people are.
Due to the extreme force often necessary in CPR it is possible for damage to the body, including broken ribs or collapsed lungs.
This means if you or your loved one are already in a fragile state, resuscitation may just do more harm than good.
Each person is different so an open and honest talk with your doctor is key to deciding if this is best for you or not.
Sometimes religious beliefs come into play with a DNR.
Also please discuss this with your doctor.
From my understanding, some doctors may not be okay with a DNR.
In these situations, you may be referred to a doctor who is alright with you having a DNR on file.
When it comes to any of the forms, DNR, Living Will, and Durable Power Of Attorney, be sure that your form is legal in your state.
In some states, witnesses or a notary public must also watch you sign the form.
Durable Power Of Attorney:
Again this form is to me, the most straightforward.
You do want to be sure that the person you put as your POA knows your wishes and reads the form.
They must agree and adhere to what you outline in this form.
If there is an issue for that individual it is best to find someone else as your POA.
If you do not have a POA the courts can get involved.
This can be time-consuming and upsetting to your family.
Rocket Lawyer, who I am not affiliated with has a helpful article on POA and the risks of not having one.
When the courts appoint your POA they may not make the best decision.
You may not wish for your next-of-kin to make these choices for you if your beliefs are not well aligned.
Only you know who is best fit to make your medical decisions for you when you can not do so for yourself.
As with the other forms you can find various formats online.
My mothers are slightly different from my own.
I prefer the forms that allow me to personalize them a bit more.
And once again, as stated above:
When it comes to any of the forms, DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney, be sure that your form is legal in your state.
In some states, witnesses or a notary public must also watch you sign the form.
Legal Zoom, again, no affiliation, has a wonderful outline of what is in a living will.
Now where I have found some confusion is the difference between a living will and an advanced directive.
It all comes down to the form that you use.
Some forms are more to the point and really only cover the basics.
These are what I was calling the Living Will.
That was until I learned more about it!
An Advanced Directive seemed to get into far more detail and allows you to customize your wishes better.
Yet, they truly are one in the same!
Doing your own research for forms online can get totally bewildering!
When I did my search I found some misleading information about Living Wills and Advanced Directives that made me feel they were different forms.
I even found a Living Will that I could have notarized but it was so basic it worried me.
Personally, I think we want options and control.
The form I chose to utilize allows me to fill out optional additional instructions that I feel should never be optional!
An example of these “options” are if I would allow a ventilator to be used, if I want a feeding tube in place and if I am alright with antibiotics being used.
Remember, this form is for when you are personally unable to make your own medical decisions.
I would hate for my loved ones to have to make these choices without some guidance from me.
Why burden them with these decisions when we can make them for ourselves in advance.
No, these choices are not easy for us to make for ourselves, so imagine the stress it could put upon your loved ones.
Not only are these choices emptional ones for your family but they can be expensive choices too.
Modern Medicine And DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney:
With the advances in modern medicine, many lives can be prolonged indefinitely.
By supplying our bodies with food and water, or breathing tubes, for example, we can “live” forever.
How long do you want your life prolonged if you will be in a state of unconsciousness indefinitely or forever?
To what expense for your loved ones?
What if we have been put into a coma?
Sometimes that is done for good reason, and with a little time, we can naturally heal.
Other times, it is done because there is no other answer for us medically.
Sure, we all wish and hope for some miracle to be discovered to pull us out our state of unconsciousness and heal us.
The Living Will, along with an Advanced Directive allows you to specify what circumstances if any you wish for your life to be prolonged.
DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney Which Is Most Important?
In my opinion, and again I am by no means a doctor or a lawyer, but I think the first form to complete would be the Durable Power Of Attorney.
My thoughts behind this are that at least one person, along with an alternate, should be given the power to make these vital calls.
Now, if you or a loved one have a frail condition a DNR may be your first choice.
Especially if you or that loved one has strong feelings against resuscitation.
Yet, a Living Will with Advanced Directive will assist your loved ones in making tough calls regarding everything.
So as you can see, they are all very valuable and necessary!
With the Durable Power of Attorney, however, someone is at least authorized to make the choices for you.
The Living Will and Advanced Directive empower that person to make those choices based on your own wishes.
That helps them feel good about what they allow the medical professionals to do.
It takes away any feelings of guilt or shame from what they allow.
Where To Begin With It Comes To DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney:
If you have a family lawyer I would start there.
In a case where you do not, I highly advise using a site such as Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer.
Doing my own research has been time-consuming and tiresome, not to mention confusing.
I called Legal Zoom and their representative was so helpful answering my questions.
Be sure whoever you choose as your POA, and the person or people designated to make your decisions is alright with what you have outlined on your forms.
Once you have your forms properly filled out, notarized when needed, be sure your doctor has them on file.
Give copies to those who are going to be making the decisions for you, such as whoever you listed as your POA.
We are all different.
Different in our beliefs, our fears, our medical conditions, and desires.
Never feel bad for how you want your forms to read!
A family lawyer or one of the site’s representatives listed above can help you with questions you may have.
In some cases, you may wish for your Advanced Directive to stipulate something very unique.
Such as if you are pregnant and need to be placed on life support.
Most women reading my blog would not face this issue as we are midlife women.
However, you may be younger and have come across this article from a web search.
An Advanced Directive, in fact, can make such specific stipulations, however, they may or may not be legal depending on your state.
You see, this is why these forms are really not best to be DIY projects.
According to Legal Zoom:
“Most state laws will not let you (or someone acting on your behalf) refuse life-extending medical procedures if you are pregnant. In such cases, your living will can be disregarded, unless there is no chance the fetus will survive.”
Now granted, this is just one of the many stipulations.
You can opt to attempt making but having it in your Living Will is better than not!
Even if not legal in your state, laws can change.
Having things clearly lined out can give your POA the power he or she needs to follow through on your wishes!
Moral Of This Article:
Get your DNR, Living Will, and Durable Power Of Attorney completed and be sure to do it correctly.
Again, I am not a lawyer or medical professional but I do highly recommend you get a lawyer to help you with your forms and be sure your doctor has copies of them on file.
I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Do you have your DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney completed?
What advice would you give your loved ones about DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney?
Did you do your forms on your own?
Did you use a lawyer, online resource or your doctor for assistance?
Have you not yet completed your forms but are considering it?
What did you learn from this article or do you have anything to add that I may have missed?
If you liked this article check out more from the Health and Wellbeing Section!