Court Sides with Father: Texas Man Remains on Life Support
Earlier this month, Terry Mace, 43, suffered a heart attack and collapsed at his home in Killeen, Texas. As reported by ABC News, soon after the cardiac arrest he was hospitalized and unresponsive and ultimately placed on life support.
Yvonne Mace, Terry Mace's estranged wife, ordered that the hospital remove his feeding and hydration tubes. Mace does not have a medical power of attorney. And although he was separated from his wife for almost five years and purportedly in the process of divorce, she legally was able to make decisions about his life support. The tubes were removed from Mace on March 22nd. Despite this action, Mace continued to survive and was reported more responsive. Mace's father, Terry Mace, Sr., wants his son to remain on life support. He took the battle to restore the young Mace's life support to court.
On March 27th, a Williamson County judge granted the father's emergency application for guardianship. The court also imposed a temporary restraining order against Yvonne Mace. The father can now make the decisions regarding his son's life support. Terry Mace's nutritional and hydration tubes are once again connected.
Don't Ignore the Inevitable
Just a couple of weeks ago, around 10:30 at night, a friend of mine sent me an urgent text message from her hospital bed asking me to draft her a living will. “I need you to draft up a medical directive… NOW… “ She then began dictating her desires, “they are to exhaust all efforts to save me for only 14 days, after that we have a party. The plug gets pulled. Please make sure [husband] has the paperwork he needs.”
Now, of course, I am interrupting, asking how she IS, where she is at, etc. She answers me but carries on, “Under no circumstances will I want to be kept alive if I am unresponsive past the 14 day mark.” Now I am trying to decide if I am going to lecture her that these are not “death bed” decisions she should be making right now- and for crying out loud- did she even have a printer available? What about witnesses? Instead, I text back and ask if I may call and talk to her. But, she was experiencing serious cardiac problems and her responding text stated that I could call her and she could listen but was having great difficulty breathing and couldn't really talk. So we continued this bizarre text exchange as I typed up her advanced directive.
I asked if she wanted nutrition and hydration—thinking, as many of us do, back to the Terri Schiavo case. My friend responded, “I want everything to sustain normal life should I wake up in the 14 day time period…after that, nothing…pull plug and party.” Then she went on to tell me about organ donation and other unrelated issues dealing with how she wanted her estate administered (yes, I'm guessing she doesn't have a will laying around, either). She ordered me to have her cremated but would leave it to us to all “fight over her ashes.” Her final words for the night were to instruct me to make sure I helped her husband “figure it all out.”
Thankfully those weren't her “final words” and even now as I am typing this she is better and recovering… but I wonder if she has even checked the email and executed those documents so they will be ready when she really needs them—which we all hope is a long time away. Most of us do not want to dwell or even consider dying, but it is a good idea to create an estate plan and be prepared for the inevitable. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “You may delay, but time will not.”
Estate planning is crucial. It affords a peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be implemented upon your death. Family members and loved ones are not left to guess what you may have wanted. Advanced directives, also known as ‘living wills,' memorialize your desires should you become incapacitated and unable to convey decisions about resuscitation. Also, an advance directive can assuage any familial battles regarding your desires. It shifts the burden of difficult decisions away from your loved ones. An updated will is an important component to an estate plan. It is important to update wills regularly to reflect life's changes, such as a marriage, divorce or a new addition to the family. In addition to creating peace of mind for yourself and family members, a well-drafted estate plan, can also avoid costly inheritance taxes for those you leave behind.
Texas Estate Planning Attorneys
At the Law Office of Lori Elaine Laird, PLLC, we are experienced in all aspects of estate planning. Some of our estate planning practice areas include:
· Simple and Complex Estate Planning
· Living Wills
· Tax Planning
· Probate and Estate Administration
· Social Security and Retirement Planning
· Closely Held Business Models
Our attorneys can help you draft an advance directive or create or update your will as well as any other estate planning devices. If you would like to discuss or have questions regarding any estate planning matter, contact the Law Office of Lori Elaine Laird today at 832-699-1966.