“David, please name me to decide when to pull the plug on your respirator”
Today I want to encourage all of us to plan for our deaths. I have seen too many families devastated by the loss of a loved one, and then torn apart by legal and financial conflict almost all of which could have been avoided if planned for.
So today I will explain some of the benefits of planning (and describe some of the necessary documents). These benefits include reduced probate costs, avoiding all kinds of conflict among family members over the assets of the estate, and the opportunity to plan for the support of our loved ones. This kind of planning takes so little time yet can mean so much to our families later on.
Here is a brief summary:
- Directive To Physicians
Many of us do not want to be kept alive by artificial means once we reach a certain level of brain malfunction. Stories abound of courtroom fights among family members over our being kept alive by respirators, fed intravenously, and kept in near vegetative states. In such cases everyone loses. This simple document directs the physicians to allow us to die peacefully and gracefully. You can plan for that now, quickly and inexpensively or you can do nothing and thereby allow your medical providers, family, and others to fight it out in the courtroom.
- Health Care Power Of Attorney
This simple document appoints someone to make our healthcare decisions if we become unable to do so. There are many medical decisions that may need to be made in an emergency setting which we may be too ill to handle. We have the wonderful opportunity to name someone now, while we are alive and healthy, to make those emergency decisions for us later on.
I named my ex-wife to make the decision whether to remove me from a respirator. She immediately purchased a power cord and started practicing pulling the plug.
- Financial Power of Attorney
This simple document appoints someone to make our financial decisions if we become unable to do so. There are literally hundreds of financial decisions that may need to be made while we are too ill to handle. We again have the opportunity to name someone now, while we are alive and healthy, to make those decisions for us later on.
Both of my parents have passed away. My brother and I handled the funeral arrangements. Even as experienced estate planning attorneys, we were both astounded by the number of choices and the possible costs for the various funeral services and burial. I would strongly urge each of you to consider meeting with a funeral home and spend a few minutes now planning our own funerals.
Folks, the time, expense and family conflict that often arises even in close families from an unplanned death is generally avoidable by taking a few simple steps in advance. Do yourself and the people you love a great service now while you are alive and alert for events that are certain to come.
And remember that ex-wives can be real helpful under these circumstances.
David Leeper is a Board Certified federal tax attorney with 38 years experience. He can be reached at 915-581-8748, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit leepertaxlaw.com