A question that we are often asked when going through the estate planning process is, “When should I sign my Do Not Resuscitate order?”.
The simplest answer: when you're at a hospital, not in the attorney's office.
What most people don't realize is that a DNR is not included in a person's estate plan. Typically, Healthcare Directives handle different medical matters to the DNR, so they are not the same.
A DNR order is used to let healthcare professionals know that you do not wish for specific methods to be used to try to resuscitate you: CPR, defibrillators, and breathing tubes, and other methods that may be considered extreme. The DNR only comes into effect if your heart has stopped beating or if you have stopped breathing.
A Healthcare Directive is concerned with the types of care that you wish to receive if you are otherwise unable to speak for yourself. It concerns things like artificial feeding tubes or other devices that are meant to keep you alive indefinitely.
The Healthcare Directive and DNR together help ensure that you receive the care you want instead of your loved ones and physicians making assumptions. You should make your desires known to your loved ones in writing so your agent can carry out those wishes if you ever become incapacitated.
It's important to note that a pre-hospital DNR only affects resuscitation efforts that are taken by emergency workers outside of a hospital or nursing home setting. If you have one of these, keep it where emergency workers can easily find it, like in your wallet, on your refrigerator, or in the glove box of your car.
DNRs are usually signed in a hospital or nursing home when you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. It does not have to be drafted by an elder law attorney, but it is a good idea to consult with one to get all the information necessary when deciding if you need a DNR.
If you have any questions about a DNR, or if you would like to have your current estate plan reviewed to make sure your documents are up to date, please contact us with the contact button below!