Free legal guide available for end-of-life decisions

The Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill, a project by the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Law and Aging commissioned by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), is designed for the seriously ill individual and those caring for someone who is seriously ill.

The recently released guide addresses societal issues that have gained prominent media attention in recent years, such as paying for health care, managing health and personal decisions, and patient rights. In addition, the Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill sheds light on recent legislative and regulatory changes, such as the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provides a 35% subsidy of the COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) premium for up to nine months.

"The Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill is a great resource for anyone facing a serious illness," said ABA president Carolyn Lamm, JD. "The book provides critical tools that help readers understand their options, make informed decisions, and minimize some of the anxiety they may be feeling about their financial and legal affairs at this stage of life."

J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD, president and CEO of NHPCO, added, "Hospice and palliative care organizations are frequently asked for information regarding end-of-life planning and decision making. This guide will be a tremendous resource to them, as well as faith communities, caregiver organizations, aging service providers, hospitals, and others who work to support people living with a serious illness."

Although the guide does not provide legal advice, it does contain tools and resources that patients and families can use when they face a serious illness. To download a free copy of the publication, go to, select "Resources." Choose "Advanced care planning legal issues," and then scroll down to "Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill."