Brittany Maynard’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Raises the Need for Advance Healthcare Directive

Brittany Maynard’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Raises the Need for Advance Healthcare Directive

The heartbreaking story of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year old woman who moved to Oregon so that she could take advantage of the Death with Dignity Law, hit home for many Bay Area residents because Maynard lived right here in our own East Bay community for many years.

Maynard, a graduate of UCBerkeley, with a Masters degree in education from UC Irvine, had a wonderful life ahead of her. She was an adventuresome spirit who taught at orphanages in Nepal and spent time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Costa Rica and climbed Kilimanjaro just a month before getting married. On New Year’s day, 2014, while the rest of us got together with friends, watched bowl games and made our usual promises to stop smoking and lose weight, Brittany learned that she had terminal brain cancer and was given just six months to live.

A move to Oregon to abbreviate the dying process

Her disease was extremely progressive, and she suffered frequent and increasingly intense seizures, severe head and neck pain and stroke-like symptoms. As managing the pain became more difficult, she made the decision to move to Oregon to abbreviate the dying process. She died on Nov. 1 in her own bedroom, surrounded by the people she loved.

Time to think about an Advance Healthcare Directive

While California does not have physician-assisted suicide, when a story like this surfaces, it points out the advisability of creating an Advance Healthcare Directive–for ourselves as well as for our aging parents and grandparents. An Advance Healthcare Directive allows you to appoint someone to make important decisions about your medical care–if or when you are no longer able to make them yourself–including your right to withhold certain medical treatments in certain circumstances. An Advance Healthcare Directive, expressing your end-of-life decisions and wishes to forgo extraordinary medical treatment if you become terminally ill, is an essential component of every Estate Plan, whether the plan is centered around a Living Trust or a Will.

Do you need more information about an Advance Healthcare Directive?

We help our clients prepare an Advance Healthcare Directive for themselves as well as for their parents and grandparents—it’s an important part of a Living Trust and end-of-life planning. Talk to us at California Document Preparers.