An Addition To Your Estate Planning
Posted on January 26, 2023
by Don Shaughnessy
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I noticed an ad recently that promoted an “anti-aging” cream. I wonder if they had thought the idea through.
I am sure they intended the ad to convey the idea that skin would look more youthful if the product was used. I am sure almost everyone consciously interpreted it that way, but not every thought is held exclusively at the conscious level. The troubling thing is that in verbal communication, only 7% of the meaning is found in words. Careful choice matters. Whether in advertising or everyday conversation, it behooves you to use words that have just a single meaning.
Being a senior now, I am actually pro-aging. Anti-aging is a concept that does not please me.
This brings me to MAID.
MAID is Canada’s law, Medical Assitance In Dying, which was last revised in March 2021. It is suicide, although it doesn’t sound like that at first. It is in keeping with the concept of a dignified life. While I don’t have any strenuous objection to the law, I think it is something that is not possible to provide adequate legislation. I doubt there is any decision that is more nuanced than this one.
Perhaps it collected the existing conditions initially, and the numbers could be expected to fall. They did not, and the actual numbers are troubling.
From 1,000 or so in 2016 to more than 10,000 in 2021. You can find a discussion here. Canadian medically assisted deaths increased nearly tenfold in five years.
There are stories where people who sought help with troubling circumstances, primarily depression, were counselled to seek help through MAID. As with all legislation, there are unanticipated consequences, but these seem more fraught.
Perhaps guidelines will be developed so the decision does not seem encouraged.
Problems will arise when the person is incapable of making their own decisions.
I think the government means well
.At the same time, I think legislation is a clumsy tool. Perhaps it would be well enough addressed by permitting such choices in a healthcare directive or with informed consent. How in control of one’s mind does a person need to be to understand the meaning? Some people are impulsive. Others think the longer term. There is always a grey area.
Any legislative option will be flawed for those who can provide neither a directive nor informed permission. Do you want the government, or some impersonal committee, to decide whether you should live on in great pain or die? Should your family have a defining input?
The long run
Part of living is making arrangements for the end of life. Your will is one part, but as life becomes more complex, other factors come into play. An actuary once told me that insurance companies have had to come to grips with the question of knowing whether a person is dead or not. Is the person who consented to the removal of life support responsible for the death? Are they then ineligible to receive the life insurance payout? The law says you cannot benefit by causing the death of another.
It was not much of a problem a century ago, but it has been litigated, and insurers fear paying the death benefit more than once.
In the MAID situation, notice that every life insurance policy provides that no payment will be made for suicide within two years of issue. It would be a question of what you mean by suicide. Now you know why we have lawyers and judges. I doubt an insurer would quibble, but it is not impossible. Be aware.
The next step
You should consider what conditions would exist before invoking the Maid Act. Many of us will have religious conflicts, while others may be much more accepting. When you decide, share your decision, and as best you can, outline the circumstances that would govern your decision were you able to make it.
I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate and effective ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals.
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