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Making an advanced directive known in an emergency situation

You're a thoughtful person. You understand you won't live forever. That's why you take advantage of one or all of the estate planning solutions available to everyone in Texas – working, of course, with an experienced attorney.

As we noted in our previous post, a number of different options exist. In particularly serious situations, when a person is clearly incapable of making decisions to protect his or her own interests, it might be wise to have someone named as a guardian. Even if you are of sound mind and body now, you can't be sure you'll stay that way. For those situations, alternatives such as assigning power of attorney for medical or financial decisions might be recommended. There is also the advanced medical directive or living will.

But what if you suffer a medical emergency and emergency responders, doctors and nurses don't have your directive documentation in hand? How will they know what your desires are?

Individuals confront this real dilemma in a number of ways, as the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys observed not too long ago. The suggested strategies run the gamut. They include putting key documents on the refrigerator, in your vehicle, on your smartphone, registering with an official registry, or tattooing "Do not resuscitate" on your chest.

That last one might have a certain appeal for some. After all, if the inking is in plain view care providers can't say they didn't know. But many experts say the tactic has some shortcomings.

For one thing, emergency responders aren't bound to abide by such promptings if you are unresponsive. Also, if you are having a heart attack, some experts argue caregivers should attempt resuscitation even if a DNR tattoo is visible. The treatment could save your life and a tattoo-caused delay would be unacceptable. If the tattoo only says DNR, it could be misinterpreted.

In short, any directive you craft must be recognized by state law and a tattoo won't serve without it being notarized somehow. A skilled attorney can help ensure that things are done in order to achieve the desired results.

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