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Indiana lawyers discuss end-of-life planning, common mistakes to avoid

Indiana estate planning attorneyHave you ever thought about your wishes for when you die or if you’re in a state in which you’re unable to make decisions? What would happen to your assets? Who would make your healthcare decisions on your behalf?

These questions can be daunting for many people. For some, it may not seem like a priority. However, anything can happen – many times without any warning.

A blog in the Huffington Post Life discusses how you can go about planning for the future and the six common mistakes you should avoid.

Mistake 1 – Putting it off

It’s common for people to procrastinate on end-of-life planning. A survey conducted by the Conversation Project found that 29 percent of respondents put off end-of-life planning because they didn’t feel that it was something they needed to worry about at the time. Another 23 percent put it off because they weren’t sick at the time, and 19 percent didn’t want to upset their loved ones.

However, making end-of-life plans is critical at any age. In the event of a life-threatening injury or illness, it may be difficult or impossible to make end-of-life plans. It’s also important to know that any wishes or plans that change as you age can later be updated.

Mistake 2 – Choosing wrong healthcare proxy

End-of-life planning or advanced care often involves choosing a person who can make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become severely ill or disabled. One of the biggest mistakes when appointing a healthcare proxy is choosing someone who may not fully agree with your wishes and may not be fully supportive should an end-of-life situation arise.

When deciding who to appoint as your healthcare proxy, it’s critical to choose someone you can trust will follow through with your wishes and advocate for you.

Mistake 3 – Getting lost in details

End-of-life planning can cause a great deal of confusion and can have some people juggling a slew of different scenarios about how it will occur. It’s best to first focus on which scenario you would want when you die and make decisions based on that.

When you die, do you want to be in your home, in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or in hospital care?

Mistake 4 – Not discussing plans with doctor

According to research, only 25 percent of doctors were aware of advance directives filed by their patients. If your doctor is unaware of your healthcare wishes, it’s unlikely that they will be carried out.

When making end-of-life plans, it’s crucial that you discuss them with your doctor. In addition, you may ask your doctor for input in order to devise an advance directive that is suitable for you.

Mistake 5 – Not expressing wishes to loved ones

The Conversation Project survey found that 90 percent of respondents believed it was important to discuss their end-of-life plans with loved ones. However, only 30 percent have actually done so. Failing to have this conversation can lead to distress among loved ones at the time of a person’s death. In addition, loved ones may have to make decisions that may otherwise go against a deceased person’s wishes.

In order to avoid this, it’s important to discuss your end-of-life wishes and with your loved ones, ideally with all of them present so your wishes are made clear to everyone. Each person should also receive a physical copy of your advance directive so they fully understand the details and can refer to them later.

Mistake 6 – Not updating end-of-life preferences over time

Your end-of-life wishes may not be set in stone. As you age and face new health challenges, it’s important to review your end-of-life wishes and advance directives to see if any updates need to be made.

The Huffington Post article suggests reviewing your wishes every five years, updating them when your health status changes, and reviewing them yearly moving forward.

If you have any questions or are in need of legal guidance, don’t hesitate to speak to an experienced probate attorney at Hocker & Associates LLC. Our Indiana legal team understands that end-of-life planning can present a slew of challenges. We want to make sure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Contact us today to learn more.

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