Before becoming an attorney, I worked in a hospital pharmacy for five years. As a fluent speaker of Russian, I was occasionally called upon to translate for the family members of critically ill patients. In my role as a translator, I was able to watch many families struggle with the difficult decision of whether to remove someone from life support.
Without a health care directive to follow, the doctor essentially had to wait for a consensus among the patient’s family members. But a consensus can be hard to find when so much is at stake.
The families had heated discussions that often lasted for hours. The family members who wanted to remove the patient from life support were accused of being selfish and not wanting to care for the patient once he or she came home from the hospital. Conversely, those who wanted to the patient to remain on life support were accused of being unable to face reality—unable to let go and to allow the patient to die peacefully.
The burden of having to decide whether or not to remove life support was literally tearing many of the families apart. The sad truth is that all of that anguish could have been avoided if the patient had created an appropriate health care directive.
Being an estate planning attorney allows me to help my clients avoid the same kind of problems that I saw all too often in my career at the hospital—and many more. I call this type of planning Dignity Planning because it not only helps maintain the dignity of my clients, but allows my clients’ families to maintain their dignity as well.
I see the same themes in other areas of estate planning. Children can be torn from their families and put in foster care. Relationships can be damaged or destroyed when family members go to court to contest a will and ask for a “larger piece of the pie” after someone has died.
Estate planning touches on the most important things in life: your protection and your family’s protection. We are not simply document preparers. We are counselors—educating you about, and helping protect you from, dangers which you may not even have been aware of. You get peace of mind, and your family gets peace of mind. That is the mission of our firm.