PROTECTING PATIENTS FROM
GREEDY RELATIVES


FINANCIAL MOTIVES FOR CHOOSING AN EARLIER DEATH


    The right-to-die might sometimes become the duty-to-die
when the dying patient has a significant estate
that will pass into the hands of relatives at death.
Usually these heirs are family members.
And usually they know in advance what they will receive
in terms of wills, trusts, life-insurance,
and/or the normal operation of inheritance law.

    In some cases, the medical care of the patient
is being paid for (at least in part) from the assets of the patient
the remainder of which will pass to the relatives upon death.
Putting this another way, the potential estate
is being used for the terminal care of the patient.
The relatives worry that these assets will be wasted in useless terminal care.
They have in mind better uses for the cash, farm, business, stocks, or bonds.
If the patient is married, the financial cost to the other spouse
is even more obvious and direct:
Sometimes medical bills are being paid from their joint assets.

    Pure greed is seldom the sole motive for wanting an earlier death.
But every person who will benefit financially from the death of another
has thought at least briefly about the money.
When the beneficiary is a family member,
that heir might have dismissed the monetary motive immediately.
But the amount to be inherited did appear in the thought of the relative,
even if the primary feeling of the relative is love and compassion
for the person who is dying.
Few heirs are completely unaware
of what they stand to gain by the death of a relative.
Only rarely does a 'rich uncle' leave some money
that the heir did not know was coming.

    Thus, financial gain is at least one part of the mixture of motives
that happen when deciding the best time for the patient to die.




PROTECTING AGAINST GREEDY RELATIVES

    Careful safeguards can discourage premature deaths motivated by money.
The safeguards that would counter-balance the financial incentives
call for the considered judgments of neutral persons with nothing to gain.

    Here are nine safeguards to counterbalance greed,
listed in order of effectiveness, beginning with the most powerful.
The blue title leads to a complete explanation of that safeguard.
The red comments explain how that safeguard
deals with the specific problem of greedy relatives.


REVIEW BY THE PROSECUTOR (OR OTHER LAWYER)
            BEFORE THE DEATH TAKES PLACE

    The office that is responsible for prosecuting any crimes
is well aware of this danger inherent in any life-ending decision.
If the death-planning record is reviewed by the prosecutor,
the lawyers in that office will look for possible premature death
motivated by the desire to inherit money sooner
and possibly to avoid dissipating the estate in terminal care.


CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR CAUSING PREMATURE DEATH

    When everyone knows about the criminal and civil penalties
for anyone who cooperates in causing a premature death,
the relatives and other heirs will be more cautious
about their participation in life-ending decisions.

A MEMBER OF THE CLERGY
            APPROVES OR QUESTIONS THE CHOICE FOR DEATH

    When a clergy-person is asked for an opinion,
this is another opportunity for someone who knows the family situation
to urge going slow if there is any danger of financial motives
causing a premature decision for death.
Such a neutral person will put the best interests of the patient first.

REQUESTS FOR DEATH FROM THE PATIENT

    When properly applied, this safeguard makes sure
that it is the patient who is requesting death,
not the relatives who might be motivated by greed.

INFORMED CONSENT FROM THE PATIENT

    Likewise, when the patient himself or herself
gives informed consent to the plan for death,
there would be less worry about inappropriate financial motives.

UNBEARABLE SUFFERING

    The unbearable suffering considered in this safeguard
is the suffering of the patient,
not the financial problems that family members might be experiencing.
Those called upon to read and evaluate the death-planning record
should watch for financial motives disguised as something else.

PHYSICIAN'S STATEMENT OF CONDITION AND PROGNOSIS

    When a physician issues a statement of the condition of the patient,
this covers the objective health status and future of the patient.
And the physicians' statements might counter-balance
exaggerated claims of imminent death by greedy relatives.

ETHICS COMMITTEE REVIEWS THE LIFE-ENDING DECISION

    The ethics committee of any medical institution
will make sure that only medical facts and opinions
are being used to make any life-ending decision.
Because the members of the ethics committee
have nothing to gain financially from the death of the patient,
they can evaluate the situation more objectively.

STATEMENTS FROM ADVOCATES FOR DISADVANTAGED GROUPS
             IF INVITED BY THE PATIENT AND/OR THE PROXIES

    And advocates chosen to protect patients
from discrimination on the basis of group-identity
might also be aware of the danger from greedy relatives.
All such neutral observers should 'blow the whistle'
if they believe the patient is being rushed into death.

    If these 9 safeguards do not seem sufficient,
there are two dozen additional safeguards that might be used
to make sure that the relatives' financial motives
are not distorting decisions about terminal care.



created February 23, 2007; revised 3-22-2007; 8-30-2008; 11-5-2008; 12-3-2008;
1-31-2010; 2-25-2011: 12-18-2011;
2-18-2012; 3-25-2012; 5-29-2012; 9-11-2012:
3-1-2013; 7-16-2014; 10-8-2014; 7-3-2015; 8-10-2018;


The above exploration of financial motives for choosing an earlier death
has become Chapter 1 of How to Die: Safeguards for Life-Ending Decisions:
"Protecting Patients from Greedy Relatives".



If you see the advantages of protecting patients from relatives,
perhaps you would be interested in other problems and their safeguards.
Thus, you could consider joining a Facebook Seminar
that will discuss and suggest revision for this book before it is published.

See the complete description for this book-club:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/aws-website-jamesleonardpark---freelibrary-3puxk/ED-HTD.html

Join our Facebook Group called:
Safeguards for Life-Ending Decisions:
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Go to other dangers, mistakes, & abuses of the right-to-die.




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