Today the San Diego Union Tribune had an article titled “Communication about End-of-Life Wishes Does Not Frequently Occur.” (see link below) It was an interesting read for a couple reasons. First, it shined light on the fact that so many people are not setting up adequate estate planning. The article cites that 70% of people say they would prefer to die at home but 70% actually die in a hospital. That’s quite a sizable gap that is due in part to failure to setup the necessary estate planning.
The article goes on to describe the importance of people communicating their intent on end-of-life decisions and emphasizes putting this intent on paper via an advance directive. Despite this advice, there is not one mention of the importance of an attorney being involved in this process. Not only is a knowledgeable estate planning attorney going to be able to put a person’s intent on paper, but an estate planning attorney is imperative due to what is stated later in the article. Specifically, the article goes on to say that if an advance directive is “not signed by a doctor, it will not be honored.” The problem with this statement is that it’s just not true. If you don’t believe me check out California Probate Code Section 4673.
This gets to the underlying point of this post, that an attorney should be involved in all phases of the estate planning process. People will avoid using an attorney for various reasons, with cost being cited as a common factor. However, using cost as an excuse to not draft an estate plan or paying less money for a non-customized form online will only exacerbate the situation upon the person’s death. At a minimum, sitting down with an estate planning attorney should be the first step, as after that meeting you should see the value in having an attorney involved in your estate planning.
Link to the Article:
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