Our country, as a whole, has seen many shifts in the financial and healthcare sectors in recent years. The Affordable Care Act really changed everything – especially the way Americans see healthcare. While the internet provides instant access to anything you can imagine, it’s also prone to many experts with ulterior motives doing their best to shift the facts and of course, information is subjective. What one person reads and takes away from any website might be construed in a different way by someone else. Couple that with political motives, and well, things become complicated.
Estate Planning Should be a Priority
Despite changes in laws and the way states vary in the way taxes are accrued and paid, you still have the final say in your estate plan. That includes any trusts you establish, your will, powers of attorney and more.
For those who are still unsure of how the new healthcare laws affect them (and really – who isn’t?), the truth is, regardless of how it ultimately plays out, we each are still in control. This means living wills, medical powers of attorney and other legal documents that allow you to determine how care is delivered if you’re incapacitated or any end of life decisions remain the solidified truth.
Even the term “death panel”, made famous during 2009 in the heat of the healthcare debates, managed to stick around long after the law was in effect and changing the way healthcare is delivered. Close to 40 percent of Americans are still unsure if there’s not some truth in it, despite it being debunked. A recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation earlier this year revealed a few interesting clues about the way Americans were reacting to the healthcare law. Of that 40 percent mentioned above, many are seniors and they believe the law created “death panels” to take away their rights regarding end-of-life care for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
What’s most frustrating for those who spend their careers providing assistance in estate planning and elder law is that the entire saga stemmed from language in the text that encouraged physicians to speak freely with their patients about those end of life issues. Most physicians have practiced this since the beginning of their careers, but when politics are tossed into the mix, it’s little wonder that many of those medical professionals are wondering whether they’re left exposed to lawsuits should they discuss things like the importance of medical directives, hospice care, Medicaid coverage and other topics usually reserved for the elderly.
Ultimately, this specific area was deleted from the laws. That’s too bad because for many families, it meant a lost opportunity to broach these difficult topics from a medical perspective.
Bottom line: your last will and testament, end of life decisions, health care decisions, and other estate planning efforts remain as important today as they were before Obamacare came along. If you care about what happens to your money, home, and other property after you die, you have an obligation to put those dynamics into place to achieve your goals. The last thing you want to do is die intestate (die without a will). When you make those decisions yourself, you are the one who decides who will become the executor of your estate, the guardian of your minor children and how you want your final days to unfold, especially if you’re incapacitated.