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Will your heirs and appointees do what you want them to do?

If you have a comprehensive estate plan, you will have powers of attorney in place in the event you can no longer make decisions for yourself. However, just because there is a plan in place, it doesn't mean everything will go smoothly.

When your wishes collide with the feelings of family members and healthcare professionals, even the best-laid plans can go awry. It's possible that your family will ignore your choices, which can lead to courtroom disputes that you will have no power to stop.

Why would your wishes be ignored?

If you have established a health care directive, there is a duty for medical professionals and your designated "medical proxy" to follow your wishes. A problem may arise in the situation when another party challenges your wishes or your choice of proxy. For example:

  • An adult child may try to challenge a do-not-resuscitate order.
  • Your family may sue a medical proxy for acting negligently.
  • A medical provider may want to ignore your directives for moral reasons.

Any one of these situations can end up complicating an already painful long-term care situation. The court battle that can ensue from this sort of action can be long and disruptive to your family

What can you do about it?

While it won't guarantee that your desires be followed, having an estate plan is still better than having no plan at all. In addition, communicate your wishes to your relatives and health care providers. And even if there is a fight, a well-crafted estate plan will help guide a judge should a claim go to court.

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