Prior to her death, there was a lot of conversation going on about Joan Rivers’ health issues following a minor vocal procedure, and the fact that she was in a medically induced coma on life support. Once her daughter, Melissa, had reported that she had been moved into a private room and was being kept comfortable, most people (especially those in the medical profession) knew that she was probably not going to recover.
The issues Melissa Rivers faced prior to her mother’s death, and the decision to remove her from life support is a wake-up call for all of us and illustrates the importance of making sure that we have appointed someone to make financial and health care decisions in the event that we are unable to do so for ourselves. I do not know if Joan had a durable power of attorney or health care surrogate designation, but I presume that, if she did, she named her daughter to make those decisions for her. Hopefully, Joan had discussed with Melissa what she would want done if she were in this type of situation, including being taken off life support. It is not an easy conversation to have, but think of the angst and guilt you can save your children by making sure they know and understand your desires.
In Florida, a living will allows an individual to state whether they wish to be kept alive by artificial means if they are terminally ill, in a persistent vegetative state, or in an end stage condition. A person can list their specific preferences as to whether they want life support or other medical treatment if they are in one of those conditions. A person may also have a health care surrogate designation in Florida that lists the person or persons they wish to make those health care decisions for them if they are unable to do so.
If you have questions about living wills and health care surrogate designations, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney such as Laurie Ohall. Preparing for this now will save your family the heartache later.