Monday, June 28, 2010

Katy Butler's Powerful Reminder of the Importance of Talking (Beforehand) with Your Decision-Makers

In the June 14 edition of the New York Times Magazine, Katy Butler writes a powerful account of her family's struggle with end-of-life issues.

Butler's article, What Broke my Father's Heart, is here.


Butler's article can be read as a searing indictment of certain characteristics of the fee-for-service model of medical care that predominates in the US (and which, according to critics, the recently enacted federal legislation will do little to change).

The article can also be read as one person's (specifically, one daughter's) examination of an ethical dilemma we'd all hope never to confront - and her attempt to grapple with questions that are often left undiscussed precisely because they are so hard to talk about.


From an estate planning perspective, the article serves as a reminder of the importance of putting one's end-of-life preferences into a legally enforceable document. 

And -- as Butler discovered -- even aside from end-of-life issues, it is important to sign a document that delegates medical decision-making authority to someone (or to someones) and then to communicate with the individual(s) to be sure that he or she understands your wishes.