National Healthcare Decisions Day – April 16

Previous posts have talked about you controlling your final moments and also how you want to be remembered.  April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day and provides a reminder that having a living will in which you express your wishes regarding life-prolonging procedures or choosing not to have a living will are crucial components in every estate plan.

To that end, during this past legislative session of the General Assembly of Maryland, a bill was introduced that would authorize a qualified individual to request aid in dying.  The Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act would have allowed individuals meeting certain criteria to request and receive from their physician a lethal dose of a particular medication.  The bill was withdrawn from consideration as it lacked enough support, but not before sparking public conversation about the topic.  At this juncture, there are four states that have death with dignity statutes: Washington, Oregon, Vermont and California.  In fact, California’s statute is so new it will only take effect in June.  Montana does not have a statute, but a 2009 Montana Supreme Court case (Baxter v. State of Montana) examined whether a physician could prescribe a fatal dose of medication to a terminally ill individual without being charged with a crime because consent was involved.  In the end, although attempts have been made to pass aid in dying legislation, Montana does not have a statute legalizing the practice and the Baxter case addressed a very narrow aspect of the practice.

Regardless of your position on death with dignity statutes, end of life decision-making and advance healthcare planning is an important conversation to have and to share with your loved ones and National Healthcare Decisions Day helps remind us of the need to begin the dialog on the subject.  @deathwdignity @NHDD #livingwill #estateplanning #endoflife #advancedirective #NHDD