Grandpa Dan is 78 years old and, as far as he knows, is in good health except for some arthritis in his hands. Grandpa Dan has a living will. He has stated to his family many times that he does not want to be kept alive on life-support systems when it's his time to go. At his death, his only child, Joe, will inherit a large amount of property.
Joe is home for a weeklong visit with his wife, Sarah, and their three children. Grandpa Dan is thrilled to see his son, his daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, and he has gone out of his way to show the grandkids a great time. On the third morning of the visit, Grandpa Dan experiences severe chest pain that radiates down his left arm. Joe fears that his dad is having a heart attack. As he rushes to call 911, Sarah reminds him that his father has a living will and would not want an ambulance called.
Grandpa Dan also named Joe as his health-care agent in his health-care durable power of attorney. When Joe insists on calling 911, Sarah reminds him that he has the right to make this decision for his father and that he is morally obligated to honor his father's wishes.
How would you advise Joe? Help him out by answering the following questions.
1. As health care agent, Joe has the right to make this decision for his father at this time.
2. Joe should honor his father's living will and not call 911.
Assume that Joe calls 911 and Emergency Medical Services arrives.
3. EMS will need a copy of Grandpa Dan's living will.
4. Sarah will be able to stop EMS from resuscitating Grandpa Dan by showing them his living will.
5. After EMS takes Grandpa Dan to the hospital, Joe should show his doctors the health care durable power of attorney and the living will.
6. Once the doctors have a copy of Grandpa Dan's health-care durable power of attorney, they must consult with Joe before making major health-care decisions.
7. Joe, as Grandpa Dan's health care agent, can revoke Grandpa Dan's living will.
Prepare Your Estate Plan Case Study 4 - The surviving spouse's share.
See all Advance Directives Case Studies.
Adapted for use in the Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare program.
Content Development by:
Carol A. Schwab, J.D., LL.M.,
Former Professor and Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University.
This document is for non-profit educational purposes only. This document may not be used by a profit-making company or organization. When used by a non-profit organization, appropriate credit must be given to the Cooperative Extension Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare education program. Materials for this program were developed by a team from six land-grant universities. The program is included in the program toolkit of the Cooperative Extension Financial Security in Later Life national initiative. For more information go to: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fsll.