Lessons from Terri Schiavo … The Importance of a Living Will

It has been hard to miss the national media frenzy over Terri Schiavo, the brain-injured woman whose husband and parents have been locked in a bitter, decade-long legal battle over her life. If anything good has come about from the controversial tragedy, it has been that people are becoming aware of how important it is to specify their health care wishes in writing before they become medically incapacitated.

South Carolina’s “Death With Dignity Act” allows for adults to spell out their wishes with regard to their end-of-life care. By signing a Declaration of Desire for Natural Death (or “Living Will”), adults may specify what life-sustaining procedures they wish to be provided or withheld in the event they become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. The law allows for the appointment of a trusted agent, someone familiar with the declarant’s wishes, who has the authority to revoke or enforce the Declaration.

The Schiavo case has been heartbreaking and controversial partly because there was no written indication of Terri’s wishes and no designated agent assigned to protect them. Before a time of crisis, all adults should communicate their desires and commit them to writing, both for their protection and for the protection of their loved ones.

For more information regarding alternative methods of divorce resolution, please call Clark & Stevens at 843-842-3500.

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