For Immediate Release


Contact: Barbara Erb
U.S. Living Will Registry
Phone: (908) 654-1441/Fax: (908) 654-1919

The U.S. Living Will Registry A Boon To The Legal Community, Helps Lawyers Ensure That Their Client's Health care Choices Are Ironclad

Westfield, N.J., January 2000 -- Thanks to the U.S. Living Will Registry of Westfield, New Jersey, attorneys in America now have a tremendous new, legal tool to help their clients utilize advance directives (health care proxies and living wills), ensuring that a person's health care choices are available to caregivers and family members in the event of incapacitation. Barbara Cane, a Nyack, New York-based attorney, said that the U.S. Living Will Registry, has been a tremendous asset to her clientele.

Free of charge, the U.S. Living Will Registry stores the registrant's advance directives in their database. When needed, the legally binding document is made available on a 24-hour basis to that person's hospital and care-provider. Founded by Joseph T. Barmakian, M.D., the U.S. Living Will Registry maintains the person's privacy and confidentiality.

Cane, who runs a private practice devoted to estate planning and estate administration, including revocable living trusts, wills, and other related legal services, said that she views the service as more than a strong value-added resource to bring to her clients.

Cane, who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, said, "Estate planning is not just about reducing taxes and avoiding probate, but also about confronting the idea of mortality and using that as a guide for making the most of life."

"Frequently, clients tell me horror stories they have heard about advance directives not being honored by hospitals or doctors," she explained. "Therefore, she said that "I stress the importance of making one's wishes known, and communicating that wish to the people who will have to carry it out."

Cane continued, "I tell them that while we cannot be certain that information will get where it needs to get, all we can do is increase the chances that it will. Enter the U.S. Living Will Registry!" She added, "The U.S. Living Will Registry makes it easy to answer the question, "Where should I keep my advance directive?"

"I routinely recommend all of my clients to register their advance directives with the U.S. Living Will Registry," Cane pointed out, "it's a great service and it's free!"

Throughout the entire information request and retrieval procedure, the patient's privacy and confidentiality are maintained. Here's how the process works: After an advance directive is registered, the U.S. Living Will Registry electronically stores the document. When a person is admitted to a hospital, the Registry makes the advance directive available directly to the hospital through an automated telephone-computer-facsimile system.

Dr. Barmakian, a New Jersey Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, added, "A coma or other illness, which causes incapacitation, is more than just a medical dilemma. It's a family crisis that can turn into a legal and ethical quagmire - sometimes requiring lawyers and courts to sort out."

He continued, "People now can have the comfort of knowing that their wishes will be made available when needed, and that their loved ones will be spared heart-wrenching decisions. Moreover, tough questions can potentially be prevented altogether."

Cane concurred and added, "My clients discuss who they wish to provide for, how that is best accomplished, and what values they want to transmit to their family, friends and community." She continued, "This means that in addition to wills and trusts, we discuss advance health care directives, charitable giving, memorial requests regarding burial, cremation, organ donations, and other difficult topics."

"In my experience, a great value of the documents is as a 'spine stiffener' for the families who must make difficult decisions," Cane added. "It is enormously helpful to read what your mother or your husband said they wanted when they had their wits and could express their wishes."

The U.S. Living Will Registry began in 1996. It was then that Dr. Barmakian began to the recognize the need for a registry service that not only recorded patients' advance directives, but made it easier for health care facilities to obtain the information.

While working in a New Jersey hospital, Dr. Barmakian witnessed the ordeal of patients' families as they confront the painful, guilt-ridden decisions of life support, medical treatment, organ donation and other difficult choices.

Cane added, "I have not encountered any problems having the documents respected. On the contrary, I have had many families report that the documents were respected by the hospital and doctor, and have even received positive comments from the medical people that they appreciated the clear direction." She continued, "When I explain the Registry's service to my clients, they're very pleased."

Barmakian concluded, "By far, the most important thing that I believe the U.S. Living Will Registry provides is peace of mind."

For more information concerning the services of the U.S. Living Will Registry or to secure a registration form, please call 1-800-LIV-WILL (1-800-548-9455). Or visit the U.S. Living Will Registry's web site: Registration forms can be downloaded from the web site.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Cane writes a column called "Willpower" for a Nyack, New York area publication, where she addresses various estate planning issues. Currently, Ms. Cane is working with Rockland County charities and other local professionals in Rockland County to organize "Leave a Legacy," a program to educate the public about charitable giving.



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