Gary Coleman's wife (as she claims by common law), Shannon Price may have been too quick with her decision to pull the plug on the beloved child actor. The New York Daily News reports that Gary Coleman's living will requested that he be kept alive unless he was in a coma that could not be reversed for more than 15 days. Shannon Price allegedly told doctors to take Gary Coleman off life support after just one day of being in a coma. Gary Coleman fell into a coma after injuries sustained from a brain hemorrhage.
While Gary Coleman's living will appointed Shannon Price as his healthcare decision maker, it also stated that there should be a wait time for 15 days. While this is an ongoing story in Utah, it does provide some insight to New Yorkers who want to plan ahead.
A NY estate attorney can tell you that a living will can help a person communicate his/her wishes if he/she becomes incapacitated. Drafting a living will in New York state requires two witnesses. Drafting a document appointing a healthcare proxy also requires two witnesses.
A living will can explain what treatments a person would like over others, withholding medical attention, etc. A New York estate planning lawyer can tell you that a living will does not legally take effect until the patient is medically determined to be either terminally ill or in a vegetative state. Basically, a patient must be unable to communicate his/her wishes.
It is important to make sure to select your healthcare proxy carefully. As with the case with Gary Coleman, a healthcare provider will listen to the healthcare proxy so long as the proxy's decision is based on a reasonable interpretation of your own wishes. As a result, Shannon Price's decision was given more weight over what was written in the living will.
While there are certain situations where a healthcare provider will reject a medical decision, those situations can be preemptively discussed with your NY estate attorney when you draft your living will.
If you have any questions about living wills, a New York estate planning lawyer will be able to answer them and give you the guidance you need. It can be mean all of the difference between life and death.
- Will Medical Personnel Honor My Health Care Documents? (FindLaw)
- Drafting a Living Will Is Important (FindLaw's New York Estate Planning News Blog)
- Consult With A NY Estate Attorney (FindLaw)