End-of-Life Directives: Will You Consider My Religious Beliefs?

Posted December 19, 2013 in Estate Planning by Michael Lonich.

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December 19, 2013
End-of-Life Directives: Will You Consider My Religious Beliefs?
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Advance directives are not typically a favorite dinner-table conversation subject – but ultimately, preparing an end-of-life directive is in each of our best interests and it is critical to have one in place. An advance directive allows you the opportunity to give direction regarding your care, whether through a living will or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Both of these instruments state your intentions about your end-of-life care, either through a document (living will) or an individual of your choosing who will have the legal authority to make health care decisions should you not be able to do so yourself (Durable Power of Attorney).

Often, religious beliefs are a substantial consideration in drafting an advanced directive. Your religion may have a strong position on various circumstances. For example, how does your belief system handle artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH)? What about individuals in a permanent vegetative state (PVS)? What about resuscitation? What about life-prolonging procedures? As such, some important considerations arise when approaching end-of-life decisions, including:

  • Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (ANH): This procedure is commonly known as “tube-feeding,” administered through the nose, throat, esophagus, chest, stomach, or intestine. Sometimes, these procedures will require surgical insertion. At what point do you wish for these procedures to end?
  • Permanent Vegetative State (PVS): A diagnosis of PVS can be made when it is impossible by medical expectations that an individual’s mental condition will ever improve. In your advance directive, you should state what you wish to be done should you be in a PVS.
  • Resuscitation: When an individual’s circulation stops, death occurs. Unless circulation is restarted quickly, the individual will pass away. One of the decisions you should make in your advance directive is whether you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops.
  • Life-Prolonging Procedures: Some procedures (i.e. dialysis, chemotherapy, invasive surgery) may be judged morally extraordinary or disproportionate if they offer no true benefit to the patient. However, you may feel strongly that these procedures should be done. In your advance directive, it is important to define your intended time limit before starting a treatment.

At  Lonich & Patton, our clients come from a diverse set of backgrounds and we understand how their end-of-life decisions can be strongly influenced and shaped by their belief systems.  Our experienced attorneys are knowledgeable about current estate planning laws and are equipped to help you create advanced directives that are consistent with your religious teachings and that will honor your true wishes when the need arises. If you have any questions regarding your current advanced directives or are interested in developing a new plan, please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich & Patton for further information. The attorneys at Lonich & Patton have decades of experience handling complex estate planning matters and are more than happy to meet with you for a free, 30-minute consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Fighting For Your Rights

Posted December 9, 2013 in Family Law by Gretchen Boger.

Few non-lawyers realize that divorce proceedings can make the parties involved vulnerable to criminal punishment. Each time that a judge makes an order about child custody, spousal support, child support, or anything else, the parties are required to comply. If a party does not comply with one of the orders, the opposing party can file a motion to bring this to the court’s attention. If it is found that one party disobeyed an order, such as an order to pay child support or provide evidence, that party may receive a citation and be held in contempt of court. This is a quasi-criminal offense that could result in fines or jail time for the offender.

This is where it pays to have a great lawyer. A great lawyer will know how to protect you while your contempt proceeding is underway; he or she will ensure that you are “innocent until proven guilty.” For instance, if you send a document or make a statement that further incriminates yourself, your chance of a fair trial in the future will be jeopardized. Fortunately, if your spouse is requesting you to share information that could harm you in the contempt proceeding, your attorney can invoke your Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination. Essentially, you have an absolute right not to make any statements or testify in a non-criminal matter while the contempt action is ongoing so that you don’t harm your chance of success beyond repair.

Importantly, however, this right is not guaranteed unless you claim the right with the court. Great attorneys will identify this opportunity and will take the necessary steps to protect you. Recently, one of our attorneys at Lonich & Patton filed a motion to invoke our client’s Fifth Amendment rights in a contempt proceeding. If you are involved in a messy divorce or contempt proceeding, having a knowledgeable, experienced divorce attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable. If you have any questions about your divorce or custody issues, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Lonich & Patton’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex Family Law proceedings and are happy to offer you a free half-hour consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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