Estate Planning Mistakes

Some of the biggest estate planning mistakes that people make are not technically estate planning, but they can have a big effect on an estate.

When people are planning for their estates, they want to make sure they do not make any mistakes.

It is important that the plans can be carried so assets are distributed in the way they wanted and so taxes, court costs and attorneys’ fees do not eat up a large portion of the estate.

Avoiding those types of mistakes is important in estate planning.

However, a potentially bigger mistake is not planning for end-of-life care while planning for an estate, as Forbes points out in “The Biggest Estate Planning Mistake People Make.”

Some end-of-life documents you should get from your estate planning attorney include:

• A Durable Power of Attorney — With this document you can appoint someone else to handle your financial responsibilities, if you are ever unable to do so due to incapacitation. This is important if you want to make sure that your bills get paid on time, for example.

• A Health Care Power of Attorney — This document lets you appoint someone else to make medical decisions for you, if you are unable to do so. When doctors need to know what decision to make about your care, this is the person they will ask.

• A Living Will — This document allows you to give advanced directives to medical professionals about what procedures to give you or to withhold in the event you are incapacitated, terminally ill and unable to communicate your wishes.

Reference: Forbes (August 16, 2017) “The Biggest Estate Planning Mistake People Make.”

Sued for Saving Patients

The first instinct for doctors and other health care workers, is to do everything possible to save the lives of their patients. That can be in conflict with the wishes of those patients, which is leading to lawsuits.

Millions of Americans have completed advanced medical directives such as health care powers of attorney and living wills. More and more people are taking advantage of their legal options to give directives to health care professionals about what treatments they wish to receive and what should be done to preserve their lives.

While this has empowered millions to take charge of their own end of life care, it has not been without conflict as The New York Times reports in “The Patients Were Saved, That’s Why the Families Are Suing.”

The problems start when the patients’ advanced directives are not followed.

Health care workers, who are either unaware of the directives or uncertain about them, have been known to resuscitate patients who do not wish to be, for example. This had led some families to sue for saving the lives of their sick relatives, which is a new position for doctors to be in. Most suits normally come when they fail to save patients.

It leaves many doctors bewildered, since the Hippocratic Oath does not suggest that saving a patient’s life is ever inappropriate.

Americans deserve to have their advanced medical directives respected and followed. Much thought and consideration goes into the decisions people make about their end of life care.

This is an issue that requires further education and making sure that health care workers are made aware of their patients’ advanced directives, so they can be sure to follow those directives.

Reference: New York Times (April 10, 2017) “The Patients Were Saved, That’s Why the Families Are Suing.”