Every day doctors come across families that are struggling with acceptance and death. When a loved one is sick beyond cure, it is indeed an emotional, ethical and legal gridlock. It happens because about 70% of the American population do not sign an advance directive. Thankfully, the numbers are not as bad for medical professionals. Being in practice gives doctors a direct view of the pain, struggle, and hopelessness faced by families. It gives them the time to think and draft their own advance directives. Advance medical directives need to be a part of every family’s estate plan.
Why do you need advance medical directive and living will?
Without advance directives or living wills, it is likely that the attending doctor and medical staff will provide intense medical care and engage in resuscitation attempts up until their patient’s death. It does not change even when the patient is a doctor himself. Fortunately, about 90% doctors in the USA opt for a DNR or do not resuscitate or allow natural death order for themselves. It means that they do not want any CPR attempts once their heart stops functioning. Above 80% of doctors do not wish to receive intense medical care and intervention in cases of terminal illnesses.
Doctors need advance medical directives more than anyone
General physicians earn about $6 million in their lifetime, and specialty doctors can make upwards of $10 million. Although doctors refusing medical care and expensive life support systems may seem ironic, upon deep thinking, it turns out to be the smarter decision. By opting for a living will or an advance directive, doctors can save thousands of dollars that could otherwise go into the treatment of a disease that is incurable. More often than not, in events of irrevocable brain damage, coma with no known hope of recovery and terminal illnesses, patient families go penniless while paying for life support, palliative care and symptomatic treatments with no effect. Having a living will prevents such a situation and preserves the property for the surviving family. The living will, advance medical directives, and power of attorney are indispensable parts of estate planning for doctors in all states of the USA.
What inspires the decision making process?
Such a significant fraction of medical professionals opting for DNRs shows their practical thinking. While many people might want to believe these directives to be inhuman and selfish, doctors know about the cost of treatment of certain incurable illnesses. Even now, specific forms of cancer are untreatable. Expensive medical care can only delay death and prolong the suffering. Thousands of dollars can go into cancer therapy and palliative care even when the cancer is incurable like Stage 4 Adrenocortical carcinoma.
In case a doctor is diagnosed with a fatal disease, terminal illness, irreversible brain damage or an incurable disease, he reserves full right to refuse treatment and added medical care. For that to happen, even a doctor must draft and declare his own advance directive. Doctors can also opt for a health care proxy along with their estate plans and living will to state his instructions clearly.
What is a healthcare power of attorney?
This healthcare power of attorney transfers the decision making power to an agent that the doctor mentions on his durable power of attorney for health care. While the statutes can vary from state to state, it helps in the execution of the patient’s directives even when he or she is mentally and physically incapacitated. By establishing an advance medical directive, the doctor gives the agent the right to:
- Remove doctors
- Discharge patient against medical counsel
- Obtain his or her medical records.
- Move the patient home or to another facility.
In short, this empowers the agent to make all healthcare decisions in place of the incapacitated medical professional as per the latter’s directives. Since it is rather sensitive and critical, even a doctor needs an experienced legal counsel before he can draft his or her power of attorney or advance medical directive.
How is a living will different from a healthcare power of attorney?
On the other hand, a living will merely states the preferences of the individual without naming anyone as an agent. It does not give another person the right to make healthcare decisions in any situation. It just lets people express their preference for tube-feeding, CPR, organ donation preferences, and other life-support measures. Several clauses kick in during the time of execution. Only legal professionals with a lot of experience in the delicate but convoluted area can help you draft a sound living will that will help your heirs avoid probate and save your property too.
Wait, you can do more!
Estate planning does not end here. A wise person usually commits to a revocable trust along with an advance medical directive. A revocable trust remains revocable during the grantor’s lifetime. In the event of the grantor’s death, it usually becomes irrevocable. Although a revocable trust does not provide any tax benefits to the grantor or the surviving family, it has its own unique advantages.
- It can help you avoid probate on assets acquired during your medical practice.
- The trust helps the trustees and the beneficiaries receive the life insurance proceeds.
- Unlike wills, a revocable trust can protect the privacy of the grantor and keep his or her direction for asset distribution a secret.
- It leaves room for flexibility. The grantor can appoint an attorney to make changes (amendments) to the trust during any time of his life.
Many doctors refrain from establishing irrevocable trusts and estate plans since they are scared of revealing their asset value to their litigious patients. A revelation of their acquired assets and family estate can attract some unwarranted lawsuits depletion of property. Beam A Life has talented teams of attorneys who can help you set up your revocable trust and strengthen your estate plan. Having wealth is not enough, you must ensure that your family can enjoy the opulence after you are gone. Therefore, you need an experienced team of legal practitioners who can help you save taxes and protect your estate at the same time. Visit https://beamalife.com/for more information.