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Legally Speaking – with Bob Mionske: Living wills and more

Dear readers,When I think of riding my bike I think of exercise, freedom, all thethings that have kept me riding for over 20 years and hopefully 20 more.What I don’t think of is danger and death. But the truth is, whether youare riding a bike, driving a car or even taking a shower, the possibility of anaccident always exists. This column is not about how to avoid mishaps,but instead how to be prepared, in advance, for the worst.Ken Rosskopf, an excellent attorney from Georgia, who has handledhis share of bicycle-related legal issues, has submitted the followingcolumn on Living Wills. This is

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By Bob Mionske

Dear readers,
When I think of riding my bike I think of exercise, freedom, all thethings that have kept me riding for over 20 years and hopefully 20 more.What I don’t think of is danger and death. But the truth is, whether youare riding a bike, driving a car or even taking a shower, the possibility of anaccident always exists. This column is not about how to avoid mishaps,but instead how to be prepared, in advance, for the worst.Ken Rosskopf, an excellent attorney from Georgia, who has handledhis share of bicycle-related legal issues, has submitted the followingcolumn on Living Wills. This is must reading for all riders.
Bob


Durable power – Do you think you have it?
I am not talking physical power, but the necessity for a durable powerof attorney for health care and a living will.

Racing, whether it be boats, cars or bicycles, can be a dangerous undertaking.There can be defects in the road condition, defects in the bicycle, badweather, other unexpected hazards or just plain old bad luck that can causea racer to crash and suffer injuries. Usually, the injuries are comparativelyminor, requiring only rest and treatment. Sometimes the crash results indeath. But sometimes, perhaps most tragically, the injury is a severe traumato the head – or some other injury that results in blood loss that causesthe brain to be starved of oxygen. A racer could end up in an irreversiblecoma or in a persistent vegetative state. What would you want to happenif you were in that situation? Do your family and friends know what yourwishes are? Are those wishes put down in writing?Every state permits competent adults to make what are called advancedirectives – LIVING WILLS and DURABLE POWERS OF ATTORNEY FORHEALTH CARE. Although these documents are similar and complementarythey are not the same, and you really need to have both.A living will, simply put, is a document that directs your health careproviders to withhold life-sustaining treatment, including nutrition andhydration, if you are in a persistent vegetative state or an irreversiblecoma. If you do not desire to be kept alive by machines when there is nohope of regaining consciousness or higher brain function, and you do notwant to have your friends and family fighting over whether to “pull theplug,” then you need a living will.

A durable power of attorney for health care is a more complicated documentthan a living will. In this document you pick a person to make decisionsfor you when you are incapable of making them for yourself. The documentmakes known your preferences for a variety of situations: what to do ifyou are in a coma or a persistent vegetative state, your preferences fororgan donation, and specific treatment methods you want or do not wantused.

In most states, these documents must conform to a form contained inthe statutes, and a form valid in one state may not be valid in another.Many of the resources on the internet for these documents do not use theform required by your state legislature or court system. You should consultwith a local attorney to ensure that your living will and durable powerof attorney are done correctly.

Randall Schonder, J.D. and Ken Rosskopf, J.D.


Kenneth A. Rosskopf is a competitive masters cyclist who,in 1991, as a membr of the US Team invited to compete in the Russian NationalMaster Championships, won the road race. A Univiversity of Southern Californiagraduate, he has been admitted to practice law in California, the US. VirginIslands and Georgia. Randall Schonder works with Ken helping injuredbicycists at Kenneth A. Rosskopf, P.C., 119 N. McDonough St., Decatur,GA 30030. Phone: (404) 373-0140. Email: kenbikelaw@aol.com