The Huffington Post recently reported on the aftermath of the tragic death of former boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho. The boxer had only recently retired from the sport after nearly three decades in the ring against some of the sports biggest stars. In his 50s, the boxer lived in Puerta Rico following his 2010 retirement. Tragically, earlier this month he was gunned down outside of a bar on the island. Emergecy responders were able to stablize the fighter, but not before he was declared brain dead by medical professionals at a nearby hosptial. What ensued was a bit of family feuding over the star's end-of-life wishes--a testament to all of us of the importance of making these wishes well-known before tragedy strikes.
Camacho's family disagreed on whether or not to remove life support to the boxer. Reports indicate that there was mass confusion and infighting. However, in the end, the extra life support measures were removed and the boxer passed away. The disagreement between the family members in the final few hours, however, may very well affect the family dynamic for years to come.
New York Health Care Proxy
It goes without saying that a family will always be in emotional turmoil when a loved one has a medical emergency, particuarly when the situation is grave. Obviously, deciding whether to take a family member off life support is one of the toughest decisions anyone might be faced with. That is why it is always best to make the decision for your loved ones well beforehand, by indicating explicitly what one's wishes are and ensuring someone will have the legal authority to make those end-of-life decisions in as straight-forward a manner as possible.
That is why our attorneys often work with local residents to create a living will and designate a health care proxy as part of their elder law estate plan. As the name implies, the health care proxy is an alternate decisionmaker who steps in to medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so on your own. From car accidents to strokes, one never knows exactly what the future holds, and so it is wise for all of us to name another to act in our best interest if necessary. In addition, the living will is a legal document that explicitly lays out the scope of the proxy's power with regard to termination of life support services. Taken together, these tools ensure that your family will not be forced to agonize over these issues in the event that some tragedy strikes in the future.
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