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Establishing medical care limits in an Oklahoma estate plan

Babies can't say in words how they feel or what they want, but parents interpret cries well enough to know when infants are sick. Communication is necessary for families and doctors to know how a loved one wants to be treated. Parents make health care decisions for children, but who will make them for you if you are incapacitated?

Oklahoma residents may associate incapacity with an elderly person near death. Old age is when we are most vulnerable to diminished abilities, but that's not the only time incapacity strikes. A car accident or severe illness may happen at any stage of life, rendering a person mentally or physically unable to say "This is how I want you to care for me."

Advance medical directives are legal documents that speak for you during incapacity. A living will guides the actions of doctors who, without your instructions, may make choices you don't want. The document directs whether you desire life-prolonging treatment and which treatments you prefer, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Some Oklahoma residents choose to add a supplement medical order known as Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. A POLST is a medical plan agreed upon by a patient, doctor and loved ones at the time an end-of-life patient still has the ability to communicate.

An advance medical directive can include a health-care proxy. This document shifts some or all treatment decisions to a health care representative, usually a spouse or other trusted family member.

Some advance directives' forms are available outside an estate planning lawyer's office, but many people seek an attorney's advice to understand the documents fully and include specifications. An attorney also can help you create a durable power of attorney to cover the management of your finances during incapacity.

When you can't make medical or financial choices, someone else will make them for you. Advance directives give you the power to control these decisions.

Source:, "Savvy Senior: Create a living will to make your final wishes known" Jim Miller, Dec. 02, 2013

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