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Advanced directives are important for Maryland residents, even if they do not realize it in time to make a difference. One older man recently found out that he probably has lung cancer and that he is in the stages of dementia. He is unable to make end-of-life decisions for himself and does not have a living will.

After speaking with his wife of 50 years, the doctors realized that he had never spoken to her of his wishes for how the end of his life would go. However, she would be required to make those decisions on his behalf even though they had never had a discussion about his wants. This situation led to questions regarding what someone with a major illness wants to do, medically speaking, after finding out that he or she has a life-threatening disease.

Also, the individual needs to decide what he or she wants done if he or she stops breathing or his or her heart stops. This is called a code status. Any resident of this state can receive an advanced directive packet either by mail or online from the state's Office of the Attorney General, and that directive can include a living will or medical power of attorney.

In Maryland, advanced directives are very easy to complete. In fact, it is much easier than what most people realize, and the fear of too much trouble can keep someone from completing these legal papers for final wishes. An attorney who focuses his or her practices on estate planning can be of help when making these final decisions and can help to complete a living will or medical power of attorney.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Don't wait until it's too late to discuss your medical care", Jason Liebowitz, April 22, 2015

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