Happy 18th Birthday!
Your overall health and your specific medical conditions will surely change over time. Because this is true for everyone, advance care planning should never be thought of as a “one-time event.” Instead, it is important for you to know that this is an essential life-long process, that began instantly on your 18th birthday and will continue from there for the rest of your adult life. When your diagnosis changes, you should consider changes in your legal documents too. In the U.S., once you turn 18 your parents lose their automatic legal right to make life-critical medical decisions on your behalf (whenever you can’t), then that automatic medical decision-making power instantly transfers to complete strangers in any local hospital or to any state court of law. And that’s where that awesome power over your life-critical medical decisions will remain for the rest of your natural life, unless and until you take action to get it back and legally assign it to someone that you personally know, love and trust to decide for you.
Once you have identified that person, it will be important to have a detailed conversation with him or her about your future medical treatment preferences and wishes. But you don’t have to “go it alone.” All of Sacient’s expert facilitators are fully certified, and each Sacient conversation facilitated for you and your loved ones is supervised by a licensed physician or other fully-licensed health care professional. We are here to help you get this done in the absolute right way.
Don’t be fooled by your state law’s default “pecking order” for who gets to decide first when there is no appointed agent with Medical Power of Attorney and no signed Advance Medical Directive already in place. Any final decisions will need to have complete agreement among ALL of the family members listed in this legal hierarchy who choose to weigh in. Therefore, if the fifth cousin twice-removed happens to disagree over a life-support decision with the spouse, then the patient could end up in that scary suspended state of existence — hovering somewhere between life and death on artificial life supports — until a backed-up court system gets around to deciding which one of them will finally speak. This terrifying fate happens every day in the U.S. and is happening right now to thousands of helpless and voiceless patients. In fact, this is what happened to Nancy Cruzan (8 years on life supports), Karen Quinlan (10 years on life supports), and Terri Schiavo (15 years on life supports), all three young women under 30 years old who had no Advance Medical Directives. Their cases dragged on for years and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court before it was all over.
Other Legal Documentation Needs
When you purchase Sacient ACP’s conversation and medical documentation services, our own in-house attorney can also prepare your related legal documents, generally at a flat rate that is less than half the cost of hiring an attorney on your own. When facing health decline or possible incapacity, it is always wise to have all of your legal bases covered. Leave no stone unturned!
Durable General Power of Attorney (for Business Affairs)
And because this is a life-long process that many people are prone to forget about, we’ll remind you and stay on top of it. We are here to support your advance care planning needs as they change, and we’ll be there for you throughout your lifetime. Consider becoming an enrolled Sacient Member. There’s more information elsewhere on this site. Click on our Services section.