We all mourned the passing of the great Whitney Houston, an artist whose talent transcended all the categorizations we place on music. The ending of her story unfortunately, didn’t live up to the glories of the heights of her career. She died in a bathtub, an ignominious ending for such a star. It seems, however, that the theme of bathtubs and ignominious endings in the Houston family didn’t end with Whitney. Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, is currently in a medically induced coma in Georgia after being found unconscious in a bathtub.
Bobbi Kristina is not yet 22 years old. Admittedly the offspring of a troubled relationship, she has had documented problems with substance abuse. The press, in its all out need to report the latest scoop, has speculated as to whether or not she is currently married to her former foster brother, Nick Gordon. (It’s all so Woody Allen-esque, isn’t it?) There are competing versions of her medical status reported in the media, with her father stating one thing, her mother’s family stating something else, and her alleged boyfriend/husband claiming something else entirely. Read about the petty details here: http://www.people.com/article/bobbi-kristina-brown-nick-gordon-leloah-brown ; http://cnn.it/1vwXnZH ; http://abcn.ws/1HyFkni. We know, it’s so confusing.
But amongst all the confusion, it seems clear that Bobbi Kristina did not have an Advanced Health Care Directive (also called a living will in some states). If she did, it would be likely that she would have named her boyfriend/husband as her healthcare agent. Maybe she thought she was too young to need an Advanced Health Care Directive. Maybe she never thought about it all, not wanting to think about being unconscious and unable to make decisions for herself. (Sound familiar?)
Advanced Health Care Directives provide your healthcare providers with the guidance they need to understand what level of care you want when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It allows you to still keep control of your healthcare decisions no matter what state you may be in. The Advanced Health Care Directive also lets you name someone (and a back-up and their back-up) who can make decisions on your behalf. Ideally this is someone who knows your wishes well and has read your Directive and understands what to communicate to your doctors.
None of this is written in stone. You can change your Advanced Health Care Directive whenever you would like. You can appoint anyone as your agent, it doesn’t have to be family. In fact, if you have family like Bobbi Kristina, maybe it’s better if it’s not. You can add or change provisions. You can be very specific about the level of treatment you would like (or not like, as the case may be). If you have been diagnosed with a particular disease, you can specifically mention it in your Directive and lay out exactly what treatment you want at each stage. Unfortunately, there is no way that an Advanced Health Care Directive can handle the complications for the ‘I-Should-Have-Created-An-Advanced-Health-Care-Directive’ disease. (Yes, that’s a real thing. I looked it up.) There’s a reason they are ‘Advanced’. So don’t assume you are too young (or too old) to create and execute an Advanced Health Care Directive. Avoid the procrastination disease and see an attorney to create yours today.