Advance Directives

Estate Planning and Tax Advisor & Alert

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PUBLISHED ON: October 1, 2005

Although the heart-rending details of the Terri Schiavo “right to die” case may have receded from memory by now, hopefully the lessons learned from the horrendous experience of that family will not be forgotten soon.

As you may recall, Ms. Schiavo was severely brain-damaged at the age of 26 following a heart attack. She had not executed a living will or other advance directive expressing her wishes, and she had not executed a health care proxy, authorizing someone else to make health care decisions on her behalf. She remained in a persistent vegetative state for the next 15 years, being kept alive by means of a feeding tube, as her husband, her parents, the State of Florida and even the United States Congress all fought over what was best for her and what her wishes would have been, had she had the foresight to express them.