Implications of Voluntary Assisted Dying in Estate Planning

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Estate Planning on Monday May 20th, 2024.

Currently, around ten states in the U.S. have legalized voluntary assisted dying (VAD). These include California, New Mexico, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Colorado. 

Nonetheless, physician-assisted dying still remains a complex issue, with lots of social, ethical, and legal considerations. VAD also has implications in estate planning that you should consider if you wish to pursue the procedure.

Family Dynamics

The decision to pursue voluntary assisted dying can be emotionally and psychologically taxing. Some family members may support the decision, while others may struggle to deal with the potential loss. The potential disagreements from the opposing parties may affect inheritance plans and possibly even lead to litigation. When planning for VAD, you need to have frank conversations with estate beneficiaries and trustees to ensure they remain on the same page.

Unforeseen Circumstances

Although VAD is usually scheduled, you may die before the selected date, particularly if you have a terminal illness. To prevent disputes, it is advisable to keep the estate documents up to date at all times. You may also want to let your beneficiaries know about the will and other documents in advance. This helps you sort out any issues before they blow up.

End-of-Life Planning

Patients set to undergo VAD typically need to draft additional documents like Advance Directives, Living Wills, and healthcare proxies. These documents allow you to outline your healthcare preferences and designate a power of attorney to act on your behalf if you become suddenly incapacitated. Drafting these documents is a whole other process and may require consultation with your lawyer.

Life Insurance Considerations

Some life insurance policies may not offer compensation if death results from voluntary assisted dying. Some insurance firms pay partial compensation, while others only issue a refund of the premiums paid. Before making the VAD request, you should first review your policy contract.  It also helps to talk to an estate planning attorney or your insurance provider to learn how you can protect your beneficiaries.

Get in Touch With Us

Estate planning can be an emotionally taxing process. At Wickersham and Bowers, we can take the load off your shoulders. Contact us today for assistance with estate and end-of-life planning.

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