Addendum: Comment from Thaddeus Pope. HR 2705 bill before the House of Representative is unnecessary and may be dangerous when it comes to Advance Healthcare Directives.
**Addendum added on June 29, 2009. Thank you Thaddeus Pope, from medicalfutility.blogspot.com. He reminded me that the part of the advance directive that states “who” should be the decision maker may not be a problem for the doctor if it is written by a lawyer. The “what you want” section is the part we should be worried about. Thanks, Thaddeus.
The HR 2705 bill before the House of Representative would give a tax break to someone using a lawyer to complete their advance directive. While at first glance, I love it that the government is considering ways to make sure people have advance directives but there is a hidden danger. The danger is that doctors hate it when people have advance directives written by lawyers. The documents tend to be long and difficult to understand. When you are in the emergency room, you want to have a standard form that the doctors can read quickly and put to use. Not only will the lawyer’s advance directive annoy and confuse the doctor, it may not be read until much later after your life and death decisions were made without your input. That is not what you want. The whole point to the advance directive process is to make sure your voice is heard when it needs to be. What doctors would prefer is for you to use the standard forms found in your state. (see my resource page for one for your state)
Also, you should never have to pay anything for an advance directive. You can get a free one online or get one at the admitting desk of your hospital. Then you can have it signed by witnesses and you don’t need a notary. Just make sure the people witnessing follow the instructions on the form. Usually the witness can not be someone you are assigning to make your decisions for you or somebody in your will. Make sure you read your form carefully.
Please tell your representative to not vote for this bill. Nothing against lawyers. I believe that are definitely times that we should use lawyers. But this is not one of them.
Have a kind and respectful day.