Living Wills Can Save Family Trouble - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/28/05 - East Texas

Living Wills Can Save Family Trouble

by Chris Cato

Terri Schiavo's case is a difficult one. Her husband says she would have wanted him to pull out the feeding tube, but the family disagrees. The one person who could end the argument can't because she's unable to voice her opinion. That's where living wills come in.

Jason Armstrong, an attorney for Fenley & Bate, L.L.P. said, "it allows you to have some say so as to your right to be removed from life support."

You decide, right now, to put in writing whether you want to be on life support or to be let go. For many this choice is a difficult one to make.

One East Texan said, "I think it's a hard thing to decide either way, for yourself or for someone else either way. Because you just don't know ahead of time, you don't know what it's going to be like and you don't know how it's going to be."

If you decide to make that decision ahead of time, there is help. Online legal sources will help you out a lot, but even writing your final wishes down on a sheet of paper will be good enough. If you really want the legal assurance that it won't be contested later, you need to go through an attorney's office.

Armstrong said, "Mom and dad say one thing, husband says another. At least if there was something that she had signed and formalized, it would give him something to go to the courthouse and say 'this is what my wife wanted.'"

Florida courts have placed a stay on the removal of the feeding tube until March 18, giving the family time to prove that Terri's medical condition is improving.

Whether it's a hard decision now or later in life, the decision to make a living will could help put family members at ease and end disputes like the Schiavo case before they begin. Living wills don't just cover removal from life support. They also go into what type of medical procedures you would like to have done on you. So if there are any religious preferences you may have, you can voice those ahead of time.

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