Life During COVID-19: Memorializing Future Health Care Decisions in a Living Will

Written by Joanna R. Adu, Esq.

In Part II of our Life During COVID-19 series I will address how you can memorialize your future health decisions and wishes through a living will (also known as an Advance Health Directive or Advance Health Care Instruction Directive). The continuation of the current health care crisis stemming from COVID-19 (otherwise known as Coronavirus) has resulted in many individuals thinking about what may happen should they find themselves hospitalized with Coronavirus or another illness.

The New Jersey Legislature has expressly acknowledged and codified the right of adults to control the decisions related to his or her own health care in collaboration with health care professionals and so long as the adult has mental capacity. In that regard, New Jersey law affords adults the right and ability to plan ahead for these health care decisions through a living will or advance directive. A living will provides you with the opportunity to memorialize and express what you want to happen should a circumstance arise where you unable to make the decision directly. This may include being diagnosed with a terminal illness, being in a coma or otherwise incapacitated, and/or becoming reliant on life support, among a variety other unfortunate situations.  Through your living will you can address whether in these types of situations you would want to continue to receive medical treatment, medications, CPR, mechanical breathing assistance, etc., or you would want to have these treatments withheld even if doing so would hasten your death.

Although thinking about these types of situations can be very unpleasant (to say the least), a living will can be the most important estate planning document for many families. In addition to ensuring that your loved ones and health care providers are aware of your desires in deciding on health care treatments, memorializing your health care decisions in advance relieves the burden from your health care representative, who is often a close family member, from being solely responsible for making a difficult, emotional and potentially life-ending health care decision should the need arise.

The skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have extensive estate planning experience in addressing this particular issue. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment today. For your convenience we offer telephone consultations which allows you to speak with an experienced attorney about your estate planning needs from the comfort and security of your home.