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Your End of Life Landscape – Are Your Wishes Clear?

Posted On: Sep 29, 2015, Posted By: Velasco Law Group

Many people are not comfortable talking about death and dying.  That is how so many euphemisms have come about in our culture to attempt to soften the word death.  Some of these are: passed away, deceased or expired.  To add to the discomfort about the subject of death, planning for death is an even more complicated process.    A survey was conducted by the Institute of Medicine in 2014 that showed about one quarter of adults in this country have made little effort to even think about end of life planning. It is imperative that adults become less fearful about discussing end of life planning especially in an estate plan. What is an estate plan? Find out more by clicking here.

End of life planning should be a team effort.  An individual should decide what makes life meaningful to them and at what point there should no longer be heroic efforts made to sustain life.  The family members should be aware of the person’s wishes and know who would be a medical and/or legal power of attorney upon the person being in a state where they could no longer competently make decisions about their health or finances.  This process should occur while an individual is fully competent.  Even though the life expectancy is getting longer, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances or accidents. There is no time like the present to begin this process.

Medicare currently is pushing for a process whereby adults could visit medical professionals to discuss end of life options which has not been reimbursed by Medicare up until this point.  See article here This would be a step in the right direction if approved and would be effective by 2016. This way the physician or other healthcare professionals could try to initiate the conversation with their patient about making their plans for end of life known.

So what happens if an adult becomes unable to make their decisions if there is no end of life plan in place?  In some cases the family is allowed to make decisions, but are they aware of the family member’s wishes? Physicians can override patient’s wishes if they feel in good conscience that the medical treatment that they are recommending is in the patient’s best welfare.   The government can step in.  Recently in the news an elderly man died and had acquired a collection of vintage cars numbering 72.  Even though his parents had long since died he had them as the beneficiaries of the collection with no alternate beneficiary named.  He was survived by a daughter who had been named the recipient of the rest of his estate but not the cars.  The state of California stepped in and stated that this made the cars the property of the state government.  The cars will be auctioned.  In the meantime, the daughter has retained an attorney to fight for her right to the car collection

This news is a prime example why it is so important to have a well thought end of life plan. Some tools that exist that can help with this process are “Values History” and “The Five Wishes Guide”.  Then a legal document known as an estate plan should be completed and the contents of the plan should be shared with the other family members and their physician. Velasco Law Group based in Long Beach and Downey California have the experts on staff to create estate plans to keep you your family out of court.  This will empower families to stay out of probate court as well. All of which results in retaining more money within the family.

The plan should be reviewed and changed or updated when needed.  Careful consideration should be made to locate an attorney with experience in litigation to be involved in this process as well.

Velasco Law Group could advise on how to write a legal document that expresses the wishes of the person involved. Each state may have a different form required.  Legal terminology is important. Velasco Law Group would be able to advise appropriate forms and terminology as well as explain the many options such as advanced medical directives, living wills and wills.  It may be surprising to note that even if you have the above documentations; either your family or your physician can overrule them.  Make sure the person selected to be your power of attorney can be trusted to carry out the wishes outlined.   Scheduled reviews should be completed and revisions made if and when necessary.

For more information contact Velasco Law Group today.

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