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Should you include a DNR in an estate plan?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2022 | Estate Planning |

A DNR, or a “do not resuscitate” order, tells medical professionals not to give someone treatment designed to restart their heart or get them breathing again, should either of those processes stop. The person simply wants attempted life-saving care before this point, but they don’t want advanced treatments to be used or to be kept on life-support.

Many people feel that they want the end of their life to just be simple, and so they will consider a DNR. You may also be thinking about it if you’re worried that being kept in the hospital would be financially prohibitive for your family, and you don’t want them to feel like they have to cover those costs or lose money out of the estate.

Should you use a power of attorney?

While a DNR can work to do this, it’s not always very flexible. The medical professionals just follow the instructions. This is similar to how it’s done in an advance directive, although the advance directive may discuss more medical treatments than just resuscitation.

Perhaps a better way to do this would be to use a power of attorney. When you do this, you select an agent, and then you authorize this agent to make your medical decisions.

If you do still want to avoid life support or resuscitation, you simply talk to your agent about this in advance. They can make the same call for you that the DNR would make on your behalf. But the agent can also be flexible and react to the specifics of the situation. 

It is theoretically possible that a situation will arise in which they would believe you would want some type of life-saving care that may have not been permissible under the DNR. A power of attorney simply means that your medical team can respond to this, rather than being bound by a document. Regardless of what you decide to do, you may want to make sure you know what legal steps to take to create this plan.