Life’s End Notes: Advance Directives
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Life’s End Notes: Advance Directives

Are you among the 29% of people who have drafted an estate plan including advance directives to insure that your final wishes are honored after you die? Or, has your discomfort with the subject of dying resulted in denial and procrastination when it comes to estate planning?

One fact is clear. Whether you are proactive on this subject or not, death is the last act in everyone’s life. As the poet Emily Dickenson wrote “Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me; the carriage held but just ourselves and immortality.”

Failure to Plan

Without clarifying your final directives your estate may be substantially reduced by unnecessary taxes and fees, your survivors may come into conflict regarding the disposition of your personal property, medical, legal, and funeral/memorial/burial decisions will be left to others who may be unaware or disregard your wishes.

Advance Planning

Drafting an estate plan that includes advanced directives has many important advantages for you and your suvivors insuring that:

  1. The disposition of your personal possessions is clearly specified.
  2. Your wishes regarding emergency and long term medical care are honored.
  3. How and who you designate to make legal decisions are defined.
  4. Your funeral/memorial/burial decisions are outlined.

Example

As an example, I drafted a Will/Trust document to transfer my estate/possessions to my designated survivors with minimal taxes or fees. I completed a Living Will to include palliative treatment (pain relief) but limiting unnecessary life sustaining medical treatment such as CPR, ventilator, feeding tube) in the event of permanent unconsciousness or incurable/irreversible illness. I completed a Medical and Legal Power of Attorney granting authority for medical and legal decisions if I am unable to do so independently. In the event that my physical condition dictates, I requested home health care. I arranged for a cremation through a nonprofit service, used my veteran’s benefits to have a burial and headstone at a national cemetery, and requested an informal family memorial service, distribution/scattering of the ashes and the gift of several oak trees as a living memorial in the county park near my home.

The forms necessary for advance directives such as The Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Legal Power of Attorney are free and widely available on the internet through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Estate planning including advance directives should be completed far in advance of the time of anticipated need. However, that is not always possible. Some people are concerned that estate planning or transfer of their property at a time when they have been diagnosed with a terminal disease can be reversed by the court if it is challenged by creditors such as medical facilities where they may have received expensive treatment. The unfortunate result of such an action is depletion of the estate. While this appears to be true, a partial remedy for this dilemma may be sought by the survivors purchasing graded life insurance. Clearly, your estate plan, advanced directives, and insurance options should be reviewed by a qualified attorney with expertise in estate law.

Summary

Only 29% of people have drafted advance directives to ease the transition of your death for yourself and your survivors? Without clarifying your final directives your estate may be substantially reduced by unnecessary taxes and fees, your survivors may come into conflict regarding the disposition of your personal property, medical, legal, and funeral/memorial/burial decisions will be left to others who may be unaware or disregard your wishes. The advantages of estate planning and drafting advanced directives are clear: The disposition of your personal possessions is clearly specified, your wishes regarding emergency and long term medical care are honored, how and who you designate to make legal decisions are defined and your funeral/memorial/burial decisions are outlined.

Read more informative articles at James W. Siddall on Facebook

Image courtesy of Flickr under the creative commons license 2.0


Street Talk

Filled with enlightenment! cheers!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thank you Andrew, starting process early is key to planning ahead.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Excellent article James, in your usual, clear and concise style, and on a serious and sobering subject. I hate to admit that I am in the majority that haven't taken care of this task in writing... no more procrastination for me on this issue, it's time for action...

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thank you Juan for your kind feedback! I am glad you found this discussion a help in your own thinking about estate planning and drafting advance directives.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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