Advance Directives for Victims of Asbestos & Attorney Assistance

For the children and spouses of mesothelioma victims, both the illness period and its aftermath are typically characterized by a myriad of powerful emotions-including fear, anger, guilt and regret. It is also common for the constant stress of the grieving and bereavement periods to be compounded by financial struggles and an overwhelming list of new responsibilities.

Losing a loved one is devastating enough. Families of asbestos cancer victims don’t deserve to suffer the logistics of their tragic loss too. This ongoing series is dedicated to providing information and guidance to the newly bereaved as well as those anticipating the loss of a loved one in the near future.

Over the course of the next month, we’ll feature articles covering topics including: legal rights of asbestos’ victims families, benefits available to asbestos-injured veterans’ dependents, making hospice and palliative care arrangements for a terminally ill loved one, providing support to a family member suffering from mesothelioma, coping with grief, types of bereavement and what to expect from each, helping the terminally ill draft advance directives and other final documents-and more.

Families of Meso Victims-PART SEVEN

Helping to draft what are called advance directives is one of the most important steps in providing support to terminal victims of asbestos; attorney assistance in finalizing and properly establishing these crucial legal documents may be necessary. Many families of mesothelioma patients, however, complete the vast majority of the process themselves with the help of guidance books or online tutorials.

Common Types of Advance Directives

When someone has developed a terminal illness such as mesothelioma, caused by illegal or unethical exposure to asbestos, an attorney will help both the victim and his or her family with protecting and exercising legal rights to compensatory damages in the form of a mesothelioma settlement or trial award. Another crucial area of legality that will require the action of the victim and family involves official documents called advance directives, which outline the choices and preferences of a patient in both healthcare settings and in the immediate aftermath of his or her death.

Four common types of advanced directive include:

  • o Living Will Outlines patient medical decisions when unable to communicate directly with medical personnel (i.e. preferences about resuscitation and life support measures)
  • o DNR Orders – Short for “Do Not Resuscitate,” legally requests that a patient not receive life-sustaining measures (i.e. CPR and/or cardiac defibrillation)
  • o Power of Attorney (POA) – Two types include healthcare POA and financial POA, gives a named individual (usually a family member) the right to make either medical or financial decisions on the patient’s behalf (also called a proxy)
  • o Last Will and Testament – Outlines the division of property, personal belongings and other assets amongst named present inheritants (also called living heirs)

Important Things to Know

For families of victims of asbestos, an attorney will have expectantly been retained already for filing a mesothelioma claim. This same legal professional may be able to provide guidance about drafting advance directives. Whether or not expert assistance is sought, those helping the terminally ill to create advance directives should research the process and be knowledgeable about applicable legal and logistical parameters.

Important things to know include:

  • o Laws governing advance directives vary by state. It’s important to know the rules affecting your family’s state of residence and also be sure to use the correct state’s legal forms, which are available for download here.
  • o For instance, some states require separate DNRs for emergency personnel. If so, be sure and create two separate documents-one for onsite medical staff and another for EMTs, paramedics, etc.
  • o Just as important as creating advance directives is storing them. Documents must be kept portable, easily and quickly accessible and safely protected-you should have several copies, distribute them to important people like doctors and lawyers and also have an original kept in a safe or safety deposit box.
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