Malpractice, insurance fraud, individual liberties: potential issues could be myriad for any estate attorney in Las Vegas under a new “Death with Dignity” bill

January 16, 2015

State Senator David Parks (D-Las Vegas) is pushing for a bill in the Nevada state legislature that’s wildly against public opinion, at this point, but Parks believes in his vision. The bill would see Nevada “joining a growing national movement to give people who are dying greater control over their final days.” But how likely is it to succeed depends on what support can be garnered before the 2015 legislative session, and support from the common people is not in his favor. While planning for the security or distribution of assets in the eventuality of your own death is something every estate attorney in Las Vegas is familiar with—being able to choose the manner, place, and time of your demise is a decision that crosses over the regular estate planning realm into that of theories of liberty and threats to safety.

As a nation, we are far less acquainted with death than we were a hundred years ago, and the personal grieving process as well as confronting the reality of our own mortalities is uncomfortable and often goes overlooked. An estate attorney in Las Vegas like Ian McMenemy knows how difficult conversations about estate planning can be: what do I do with my investments, my property when I’m gone? To whom do I want my medical power of attorney to go? What should my advance directives look like? But to add the incredibly complex option that is presented by this “Death with Dignity” bill in Nevada could change that landscape drastically.

Sen. Parks believes it won’t. With provisions in place for the law to assess mental competence and diagnosis of terminal illness, as well as requirements for patients to legally be adults and capable of communicating health care decisions, waiting periods, witnesses, and informed consent processes, the bill’s rigorous approval process supposedly protects physicians and patients both. “The use of the law cannot affect the status of a patient’s health or life insurance policies,” and participation in the law would be 100% voluntary for physicians and health care providers.

But from the legal side, an estate attorney in Las Vegas like McMenemy might see potential challenges—malpractice and insurance abuse, for example. Opponents of the bill claim that because the life-ending prescriptions are so inexpensive, insurance companies will steer patients “toward assisted suicide,” and doctors will follow suit.

Whether this bill represents our metaphysical struggle with control and ideological struggle to secure basic individual liberties, providing compassionate care for those who suffer from humiliating and excruciating terminal diseases, or legalizing the means of snuffing out one’s life instead of fighting for or protecting it is a matter hotly debated in Nevada. For the Nevadans who want the legal protection provided by the option to die with dignity, though, it’s about leveraging the same amount of rational planning for the last moments of one’s life that an estate attorney in Las Vegas helps thousands of individuals with in regards to the financial and legal implications after the inevitable event itself.


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