As I write this, the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others on Saturday is still fresh, and shocking.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Rep. Giffords and all the injured persons, and of course to the families who lost loved ones so senselessly. Having spent a little bit of time working on Capitol Hill, I’ve also been thinking about Rep. Giffords’ staff and the effect this event may have in the offices of elected officials throughout our country.
Though painful, this event does create a “teachable moment” for you with clients and prospects. Please understand that I do not mean any insensitivity or disrespect by raising this subject so soon, but as you will see shortly, the timing is part of my point.
This tragedy illustrates all too well the importance of advance care planning. It reminds current clients why they have executed a health care power of attorney (HCPOA), and why all their loved ones and your prospects need to get one – now. Because sometimes serious medical events are completely unexpected. For the same reason, it also illustrates to clients the importance of talking to their HCPOA now about their wishes, so that their designees can function more capably as health care agents in the event of a sudden medical challenge down the road.
Many medical experts believe that stories are the best way to start conversations about advance care planning. You may have also found this to be true in your practice.
In 2005, the controversy surrounding Terri Schiavo caught the public’s attention and held it. Ms. Schiavo’s story was compelling enough to override the natural tendency to put off that which is unpleasant. During and shortly after Ms. Schiavo’s case, completion of health care directives jumped markedly. But the focus didn’t last.
While we keep the victims of this tragedy in our hearts and prayers, you can also try to make a nugget of good from it — by using this story to reach people emotionally in a way that is otherwise often hard to achieve.
Randi J. Siegel, MBA, is the President of DocuBank, the largest advance directive registry in the U.S., which ensures that the healthcare directives of its 175,000 enrollees are immediately available 24/7/365. Working with estate planning professionals since 1997, Randi frequently speaks at national estate planning conferences and has appeared on radio and television as an authority on registries. She is active in health policy pertaining to advance directives and serves as a Senior Fellow at the Jefferson School of Population Health in Philadelphia. Randi is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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