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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Is it Time for The Talk?

Challenging Estate Planning Conversations

Is it Time for The Talk?

In family life there are a number of “Talks” which parents need to have with their children. Remember “Where do babies come from?”

Well, much later in life, older parents need to talk to their adult children about Wills and powers-of-attorney, elder care and end-of-life decisions.

In my practice as a lawyer specialising in estate planning, I have repeatedly noticed that my older clients are generally much more willing to discuss estate planning issues than their adult children.

I have speculated as to the reasons for this, and have come up with a list of possible explanations:

  • Fear of being seen as interfering in their parents’ affairs;
  • Concern at how their interest in their parents’ estates may be interpreted by others;
  • Discomfort at confronting the mortality of their parents;
  • A recognition that parents are getting older, and perhaps their best health is behind them;
  • A perception of “passing the baton” from one generation to the next.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: The Benefit of Advance Directives

The Benefit of Advance Directives

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows one in four elderly people require someone else to make decisions about their medical care at the end of their lives.

These findings support the value of advance healthcare directives as a means of making end-of-life treatment preferences known (sometimes called anticipatory directives or living wills).

The study found that such formal estate planning documents improved the likelihood that a patient’s wishes would be followed and reduced emotional trauma among family members.

The results illustrate the value of people making their end-of-life wishes known in an advance directive (living will) as well as designating someone to make treatment decisions for them before the end-of-life stage.  This is why both a Natural Death Advance Directive and a Medical Power of Attorney are necessary parts of a modern integrated estate plan.  Each document fulfils a specific purpose.

The Associated Press reports: “In the study, those who spelled out their preferences in living wills usually got the treatment they wanted. Only a few wanted heroic measures to prolong their lives. The researchers said it’s the first accounting of how many of the elderly really end up needing medical decisions made for them.”

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Planning an Enduring Legacy

Planning an Enduring Legacy

What do you want to be remembered for, after you’re gone?

Traditional Wills describe the worldly possessions you want your loved ones to have. This sort of document is the oldest and best known component in estate planning.

In addition to the Will there are additional types of documents that are now widely recommended as part of modern integrated estate planning. These include Advance Medical Directives which may be used to express your wishes with regard to medical preferences in case you subsequently find yourself in a situation where you can’t make your own decisions. This sort of “Living Will” can address issues relating to end-of-life decisions such as life support and to define the extent of use of artificial means to keep you alive if there is no hope of recovery.  There are also all sorts of other documents which allow you to delegate control and decision-making, such as various categories of Powers-of-Attorney.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: The Right to Choose – Live or Die

The Right to Choose – Live or Die

Do you have strong feelings about what should happen at the end of your life?

You are not alone.

Around Australia in the last 15 years there have been several legislative attempts to create a framework for assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, and there have recently been Bills before the parliaments in both South Australia and Western Australia upon this issue.

In 1995, the Northern Territory of Australia became the first place in the world to pass right to die legislation. The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act lasted 9 months before being overturned by the Australian Federal Parliament. At present, voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in all states and territories of Australia; however the pressure is growing for change.

There are already places in Europe and in the USA where the laws permit degrees of voluntary euthanasia.

Of course this is a sensitive and controversial topic, provoking extreme reactions among people.  It touches upon some of the same issues as Capital Punishment and Abortion.

For some, the sanctity of human life is paramount, and for them religious beliefs prevent any suggestion of termination of life.  This group might be called the “Right to Life” group.