The Value of a Living Will

Posted on

May 12, 2020

Share This
My doctor has a collage on one wall about the importance of Advance Directives, or Living Wills, regardless of ones age. An Advance Directive or Living Will is a document in which we each tell our loved ones how we want the end of our life to be handled when we are in a permanent unconscious or vegetative state, or have an end-stage of a medical condition, with no reasonable likelihood of significant recovery, do we we want to be resuscitated, tube fed, and such?
How will our loved ones know our wishes on these matters if we dont tell them? Its best to create an Advance Directive now, while we can decide for ourselves. As the doctors display said, End of life decisions should not be made at the end of life, and, For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story, and in stories, endings matter.
Age is not a factor in creating a Living Will; tragedy can strike at any age. The expense is low, but the peace of mind in knowing that when our time comes, we control the quality of our passing on is priceless.
Most of us know what medical decisions we want made at the end of our lives, but have we told our loved ones? If not, how will they know? As the display said: I have an advance directive, not because I have a serious illness, but because I have a family.
We always point out to our clients the options in their Living Will of deciding what, if any, extraordinary measures they want taken at the end of their lives. Once they select those options, they then must decide, should their instructions be binding on their families and providers, so their loved ones do not have to make those difficult decisions during a crisis, or do they want their loved ones to be able to override their decisions? Either way, they have expressed their desires to guide their loved ones.
So, start the conversation with your family. Communicate your wishes to them and have them communicate theirs to you. Then, go to an attorney and put those wishes on paper in an Advance Directive/Living Will, so that, when your time comes, all involved, including medical providers, know how you want the end of your life to be managed.
__________________________________
Editors Note: This article was submitted by Jeffrey R. Bellomo, Esquire, CELA

Other Articles You May Like

Family Involvement in Elder Law

As an estate planning and elder law attorney, I have seen a little bit of everything over the past 20 years. I am a big believer in having loved ones be part of the estate planning process to ensure that everybody is on the same page. Unfortunately, there are a few unscrupulous individuals whose objectives are to take advantage of their parents in one way or another. This does not change my opinion that estate planning and elder law are a team sport and that they should always include the financial advisor, the accountant, as well as the family. However, it is imperative that the professionals who are working with the individual stay vigilant and watch for signs of exploitation or abuse. Although it can often be very subtle, professionals usually have the skills and the tools to be able to see through it and bring attention to it. In an extreme case, a professional will contact the Area Agency on Aging and notify the Adult Protective Services division. They have authority under the Adult Protective Services Act to protect individuals in or around our community. However, that is definitely the exception to the rule, and in most cases, it is enough to have the family members leave the room and talk to the client alone to determine whether or not they are being unduly influenced or if they are speaking freely on their own. Most elderly individuals dont always realize what is occurring and therefore are not trying to hide it. They dont realize what is going on, so a trained professional can often ask the right questions to determine if something is not right. In the vast majority of cases, I do think that having family involvement in the elder law process is beneficial to everyone involved.

Anticipating the Fate of Your Digital Assets

The fate of your digital assets is a query that has rapidly gained traction over the past few years and is poised to surge even further as we journey into the future. The realm of digital assets and estates, once an obscure concept, has now become a staple of modern existence. It is paramount that the Power of Attorney you employ meticulously outlines the powers bestowed upon the agent, encompassing provisions for digital assets. Furthermore, these provisions must seamlessly integrate into your Last Will and Testament, guaranteeing that explicit directives concerning your digital assets are established. This strategic approach empowers the executor with the authority to execute your desires. In the realm of estate planning, as with all matters, precision yields the best results. Presently, while its not commonplace for individuals to expressly address the management of digital assets, this is expected to evolve into the standard practice in the foreseeable future. As of now, its imperative to ensure that your legal documentation incorporates provisions that account for these assets. Additionally, one must consciously recognize these assets as integral components of the estate, and deliberate on whether they should follow the conventional trajectory to residuary beneficiaries or be assigned a distinct path.Indeed, your digital estate is a facet that warrants consideration, necessitating its inclusion in all documentation pertaining to estate planning. This proactive approach ensures that the digital realm, which has seamlessly woven itself into our lives, is seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of your comprehensive estate strategy.

The Risks Of An Adult Child Getting An Advance On Their Inheritance

As we grow older, our desire to support our children often intensifies. A trend that is becoming more prevalent is parents choosing to give their adult children an advance on their inheritance while they are still alive. Essentially, this means gifting a sum of money to the child during the parents lifetime and including in their estate planning documents that if the gift is not repaid, it will be considered an advance, affecting the childs share of the estate. While there are several concerns I have with this approach, two major ones stand out: the potential impact on Medicaid eligibility due to the gift being considered, and the risk of unequal distribution of assets among the children. One significant issue arises if the parent requires long-term care. Medicaid, the government program that assists with long-term care costs, imposes a five-year look-back period to assess any gifts made during that time. If a gift is identified, a penalty is calculated, which could prevent the person from qualifying for Medicaid until the penalty period is served. Providing an advance during your lifetime is indeed considered a gift and may significantly affect your eligibility for long-term care assistance. Additionally, we cannot predict the financial demands that may arise toward the end of our lives, especially when it comes to potential long-term care needs. Giving away money during your lifetime with the expectation that everything will be equalized may be risky, as theres no guarantee of how much money will be left in your estate. For instance, if an advance of $300,000 is given to one child, deemed an advance, and after paying debts, funeral expenses, and legal bills, there is insufficient remaining to reimburse the other children, an unfair situation arises. As a general rule, we advise against providing advances during your lifetime. While there may be specific exceptions based on individual circumstances, seeking counsel before making such decisions is crucial. Without professional guidance, we do not recommend this course of action. Join our free educational workshop to delve deeper into estate planning and inheritance strategies. By attending, youll gain valuable insights to make informed decisions about your assets and your familys future. Reserve your spot now!