You may or may not be paying much attention to the GOP debates, but recently a question was raised that we at MH feel is especially important. During the recent GOP debate in Florida, one of the journalists attending the debate asked the GOP nominees what their thoughts were regarding the Terry Schiavo case. The question presented was whether the nominees thought it was right for the government or the courts to have a say in whether a person should be kept on life support.
The purpose of this post is not to delve into the intricacies of the answers that were given and debated over, but rather to show how important it is that every American outline their wishes in case they were ever in a similar situation as Terry Schiavo. We feel this is especially important for those in New Mexico and Arizona!
If you are unfamiliar with the Terry Schiavo case, below is a brief summary:
In 1990, and at the age of 26, Terry Schiavo suffered a cardiac arrest in her Florida home. Terri’s brain was deprived of oxygen which resulted in severe brain damage. After nearly three months in a coma, she was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, and her parents were engaged in a legal battle from 1998 to 2005 fighting over whether to keep her on life support or not. The legal fees to settle this matter were in excess of $1 million. Also, both parties had to suffer from constant media attention and all the negative affects that came with it. Fifteen years after her accident, and after 14 appeals and numerous motions, petitions, and hearings in the Florida courts and even the United States Supreme Court, Terri’s feeding tubes were finally removed on March 18, 2005. Terri Shiavo passed away two weeks later.
There are many things you can choose to disagree on in regards to what the GOP candidates are claiming in these debates, but there should be no question that everyone has the right to decide on important matters such as life support. We should never have the courts or the government interfering with these life-and-death decisions. The only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out in such a situation is to have a Living Will in place.
A Living Will is a physician’s directive that tells the doctors whether you do or do not want to be kept on life support if you are ever in a persistent vegetative state. If Terry Schiavo had prepared a Living Will, the courts and the government would not have gotten involved in these most personal of matters. It also would have saved a great deal of time, money, stress and destroyed relationships between her husband and her parents.
Whether you believe you should or should not be kept on life support is a personal decision that should be made while you have the necessary mental capacity, thus keeping the decision away from the government and the courts. Please take the time to have this important document created for you and your loved ones. Call us to schedule an appointment so we can create a living will for you and your loved ones.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, powers of attorney, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, insuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
Contributed by MH attorney David T. Eastman