Connie and Barry Reese bent over the living-will declaration, donor registry enrollment and Ohio health care power of attorney forms, filling them out as prosecuting attorney David Phillips guided them through the process.

Connie and Barry Reese bent over the living-will declaration, donor registry enrollment and Ohio health care power of attorney forms, filling them out as prosecuting attorney David Phillips guided them through the process.

Phillips was guest speaker for the second in the "Caregiver Series," focusing on the legal aspects of healthcare, offered through Union County Senior Services.

The first in the ongoing series was held in November and focused on caregivers coping with Alzheimer's disease.

When Phillips addressed the group congregated at the Government Services Building on June 23, he said, the goal is to better understand the choices available for end of life decisions, to clear up misconceptions, assist people in filling out forms and to help individuals take control of their medical futures.

He first reviewed Ohio's living will and then proceeded onto organ-donor registration, health care power of attorney, general power of attorney and the do-not-resuscitate law.

A notary public was on hand to make it official for those completing the documents.

The Reeses, who have a Plain City address and are residents of Union County, said they have their wills done, but they wanted to make sure they are informed with regard to Connie's 86-year-old mother.

Barry Reese said they also want to make sure their own documents have been done properly because they picked them up at different locations.

"Our son now is in Ireland and we didn't change his address," Connie Reese said, explaining that he has lived there for a couple of years since moving to the Emerald Isle with his company. "Our families are so close, they would all be involved, but we want to be more informed, as informed as we can be."

Union County residents were given two opportunities to hear the presentation. An evening event ensured that people who worked during the day could also take advantage of Phillips' legal expertise.

Dick Douglass, director of Senior Services, said the larger group signed up for the evening presentation.

Phillips spent a couple of hours explaining how a living will and power of attorney work while fielding questions from the audience.

When a living will is signed, Phillips said, life-sustaining treatment will not be administered once two doctors determine that there is no hope of recovery.

Doctors are, however, obligated to provide artificial nutrition and hydration for pain relief, but not to extend life if a living will is in place.

Phillips assured the caregivers that a living will does not cause a problem for obtaining insurance or for the beneficiaries. He said a copy should be given to the primary-care physician, who will make it part of the medical record.

The document can always be revoked, according to Phillips, but it is important to write revoked on it or tear it up. He said it is also important to give a copy to the doctor so he or she is not acting on old information.

Living-will forms have changed over the years, but once they have been notarized or witnessed by two people and signed, Phillips said, they remain valid.

Anatomical gifts were also addressed during the presentation. Phillips said they are an optional part of the living will.

With the anatomical gifts, the signer has the option of not donating, donating all or part of their body for transplant, therapy, education or research.

One woman asked Phillips if a person is dead when their organs are donated.

"I hope so," he said. "The answer is 'Yes, you are.' They cannot harvest organs unless you are actually declared dead."

She shared a story of a woman who was not dead when organs were harvested.

Criminal charges and a lawsuit will probably result, according to Phillips.

"I'm a donor; I don't want them taking anything I really need," he said.

Some people think having power of attorney allows them to act as an attorney, he said, but that is not accurate.

"A lot of people come into us and say, 'Well, I'm the power of attorney,' and they think that enables them to act as an attorney, to go into court and represent the person," he said. "If you have someone's power of attorney, you are not the power of attorney. People come in and say, 'I'm the power of attorney.' No, that's like saying, 'I'm the sandwich.'"