Die Now, It’s Cheaper
By: Kelly Burke 04/18/2015
Woody can dream of not dying, but it’s gonna happen. Everyone born in 1880 died. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Some died while fighting for life, some died peacefully. But in the end, everyone dies.
Good news for you, Georgia has a government form for just that occasion. Called the Georgia Advance Directive For Health Care (ADHC), it’s a classic government form. It’s 15 pages long, so you might grow old and die just filling it out, but it’s a good thing to give it a try. There was previously a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney For Health Care available in Georgia, but those have been rendered obsolete by the new form. If the Living Will and Health Care Power were valid when they were signed, they are still valid today however.
So what does a ADHC do?
Mainly, it lets you appoint an agent, and backup agents, to make decisions for you in the event you can’t make them. They can ride in the ambulance with you, have you admitted or discharged from the hospital, visit you, see your private health care papers, make health care decisions for you and even give away your body parts at the end. They cannot put you in the nut house, you’ll have to do that yourself.
Your agent follows your stated preference on how you want medical decisions made. Generally there are three options: 1) keep me alive no matter what (no one chooses that, except maybe Ted Williams), 2) allow my natural death to occur but keep me comfortable, and 3) I want nothing done unless it cures me. See your lawyer for more details.
Your agent can authorize an autopsy of your remains, but they can’t stop the autopsy if the law requires one to be done. They can determine final disposition of your remains, but you give them guidance, which is where it gets cool. Sure you can be buried, or cremated, like 99% of folks. You can have your ashes scattered into the wind, but preferably downwind, as upwind tends to blow back (a la John Goodman in The Big Lebowski).
Or you can donate your body to the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I’ve been there, it is amazing. They take bodies and put them all over the place. In the sun, shade, by a creek, under a rock, etc. to study the decaying process. Hence when you read that someone has been dead for three weeks when discovered, you know how the scientist figured that out. It’s a worthwhile project for your earthly body since you’re not going to be needing it any more.
ADHC lets you nominate someone to be your guardian if you become legally incompetent. You know, parents perform that role for teenagers, but after that, our incompetence usually results in consequences from which we learn. Hopefully. When you get to the point that your kids have to take care of you, this form lets you pick the kid. Some kids will do better than others, I’m sure.
In the end, the ADHC is a good thing to do. It doesn’t handle who gets the house, or the chifferobe, but it handles the human part of dying. You can get those details out of the way so the only things the kids will have left to fight about are your earthly possessions.
“The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.” Epicurus. He died in 270 B.C., so he knew what he was talking about. He died well because here I am, quoting him today.
You can download a copy of the Georgia ADHC here.
Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.