Controversy in the Determination of Death

When is a person considered officially dead – and who gets to make the final call? These questions are still debatable, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For more than four decades, physicians have been able to declare a person brain-dead, even if their heart and lung activity can be maintained with machines. But lately, the determination of death has come under scrutiny as more families are challenging the determination of brain death in loved ones.

Last December, a group of lawyers as well as neurologists and philosophers from the Uniform Law Commission met to discuss potential revisions to the brain-death declaration. The party drafted uniform legislation for states on issues including child custody and estate planning. Now, it is up to states whether to adopt the commission’s recommendations, which could usually take up to 2 years.

James Bopp Jr., a member of the drafting committee, proposed a revision that would get rid of brain death altogether. However, many proponents of this proposal came to the conclusion that limiting brain death from the determination of death could worsen organ shortages.

If the drafting committee reaches a consensus on a new determination of death that is ultimately accepted by the Uniform Law Commission, the debate could extend to state politicians, who would decide whether to adopt it into law.  If California’s definition of death changes existing Advance Health Care Directives could be impacted.  We plan to monitor the situation on behalf of our clients.

Unfortunately, death can be a complex topic to address. No one likes to think about passing away or losing a loved one. However, it is inevitable. This is why it’s important to form a comprehensive estate plan.

Estate planning is the process of documenting your wishes and how you want them to be carried out following your death. It’s an essential part of your end-of-life plan. Drafting a thorough estate plan can also greatly reduce the anguish your family might experience if they had to make these decisions without your input.

Whether you’re brand new to estate planning, need to modify an existing trust/will, or wish to ensure your documents are up-to-date and targeting your needs, reach out to Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd.. Attorneys Chris Botti and Paul Morison at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. provide clients with help in developing comprehensive estate plans. Attorney Botti is also a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law.

You can reach our offices by calling Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. at (877) 585-1885. Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. will give you the personal service you deserve. We happily serve residents all over California including Ventura County, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, Los Angeles County, and Kern County.