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Living Wills; End of Life; Feeding Tubes and Palliative Care

Living Wills; End of Life; Feeding Tubes and Palliative Care

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

Living Wills: Food For Thought

 

Money Matters Radio – Estate Planning Checklist

By: Martin M. Shenkman, Esq.

 

 

Introduction/Overview: Living wills are a critical estate planning document. They make known your personal wishes so that those you appoint as your medical powers of attorney under your health care proxy will know what you want done. The common use of living wills doesn’t mean they are not vital, complex and worthy of some careful thought.

 

Consider the following items?

 

No Feeding Tubes: Ask almost anyone if they want to be kept alive on feeding tubes and you’ll hear a definite “NO.” But it is far from simple.

 

Chronic Illness: Just what is a feeding tube and why wouldn’t you want one? If you are conscious and aware, would you really turn down measures that would prolong your life? Most people when asked the questions assume, erroneously, that they are in a vegetative state when a feeding tube would be administered. The details are important.

 

Do You Want To be Starved To Death: Most people will say absolutely not! But these are often the same people that don’t like the image of being kept alive by a feeding tube.

 

Religion and Feeding Tubes: Ask almost any religious adviser and you’ll find that most faiths have issues with not providing nutrition. Even of greater concern to many religious advisers is that a feeding tube once in place should not be removed as that is an affirmative act to cause starvation.

 

Palliative Care: There was recently an article in the New York Times about palliative feeding. The article concluded based on various studies it cited that feeding tubes do not in fact prolong life and that careful hand feeding to the extent the patient will take food, a tedious but perhaps loving process, can maintain life for just as long. What does this suggest for re-evaluating the entire process?

Avoid the Terri Schiavo Tragedy: Everyone remains the painful television coverage. The family will never get over the trauma. Whatever you decide, communicate it clearly and in writing.

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