How do I avoid being in a Terry Schaivo situation?

If you recall from the early part of this century, there was a huge legal battle in Florida over whether a poor woman named Terri Schaivo would be kept alive through artificial means (feeding tube) or allowed to pass away.  Her husband, who was estranged from her family wanted her to pass away, her family wanted her to remain alive through artificial means.  The result was 10 years of litigation, $100,000.00 of dollars in legal fees and unmeasurable pain for the family.  A court ultimately decided Ms. Schaivo should be allowed to pass away.

There is a way to prevent this type of battle.  In Oklahoma, it is done through an Advance Directive (living will).  This document allows you make decisions about how your end-of-life are is handled and appoint a person you trust to help the doctors carry out your decisions.  Most other states have the same type of living will provisions.

If the living will is done properly, the doctors, hospital and family are required to follow it:

A physician or other health care provider who is furnished the original or a photocopy of the advance directive shall make it a part of the declarant’s medical record and, if unwilling to comply with the advance directive, promptly so advise the declarant.

If you have questions about a living will or any other estate planning issues, please feel free to contact me and to find out more about estate planning listen to my podcast “Estate Planning Demystified“.


Posted by Shawn Roberts

I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. I tend to focus on estate planning and business issues. I make a living as an attorney working for Resolution Legal Group in Oklahoma City. I am husband to Amy and the father of Sam and David. We live exactly in the path where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."