“So many people avoid making their end-of-life decisions because they believe they will give up control. But that’s a huge myth. You take control by identifying the persons you want to make your decisions for you and what care you want. You are taking control.”
Elder Law Attorney Brigid Fernandez recalls watching families interact in the ICU or emergency room.
“As a social worker for a major healthcare system in St. Louis, I saw many families struggling in situations where they were not ready to make decisions that needed to be made,” says Brigid. “Oftentimes I witnessed individuals and families challenged by the legal issues, while wrestling with the emotions and consequences of making hasty and uninformed medical treatment decisions.”
“Conversations regarding end-of-life decisions are emotional. But they can offer opportunities for education while providing the clarity necessary to give individuals and families peace of mind.”
Brigid is serious about encouraging people to commit to their Advance Care planning:
1) I want everyone to appoint a healthcare agent, and to complete Advance Directives documents;
2) I would support a statute that would establish a line of succession for surrogate decisions makers if a person does not complete their Healthcare Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directive.
As an advocate for end-of-life planning, Brigid educates prospects through her law practice, Fernandez Elder Law, LLC, and her volunteer efforts throughout the community. When individuals or families talk with her about end-of-life planning, she provides resource packets with information they will find helpful, encourages people to communicate with their healthcare agent on their wishes, and works with them through Advance Care planning. Brigid also discusses Advance Care planning when talking with clients about legal issues.
“We should all plan for the end of our life. We don’t know what can happen, regardless of age. It is not a process limited to older adults; all adults 18 and older should plan for the unexpected.
“When you think about it,” Brigid adds, “there are all kinds of ways we plan for the unexpected. We work with financial planners, we purchase health, life, and car insurance; business owners plan for their financial future and work to secure continuing health and retirement benefits for their employees; people who plan events purchase insurance and plan for the unexpected.”
“Why wouldn’t one plan for the unexpected end of life?”
Here are helpful resources to begin your research of Advance Care planning:
– Brigid Fernandez, J.D., LCWS
– Carla S. Baum, Meaningful Life
– The Conversation Project
– Missouri Bar Association, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive
– Illinois Department of Public Health, Advance Directives
Life doesn’t follow a script. Be in control. Plan for the unexpected.
Brigid Fernandez, Fernandez Elder Law, LLC, St. Louis, is a Certified Elder Law Attorney as certified by the National Elder Law Foundation.* Brigid graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law. In addition to her law degree, Brigid is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, having worked for many years as a Medical Social Worker. Brigid pursued her law degree to continue her advocacy for older adults and persons who live with disabilities. She is a Certified Civil Mediator and an accredited attorney with the Veterans Administration. Brigid is a member of The Missouri Bar, and a member of the Estate, Trust & Elder Law committee, a member of the National Elder Law Foundation, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. Brigid is a Past President of the Missouri Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
*Neither the Missouri Supreme Court nor The Missouri Bar reviews or approves certification organizations or specialist designations.