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Estate plans should address a risk of emergencies, not just death

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Estate Planning

Wills can leave very clear instructions about the distribution of someone’s property and their desires for interment or cremation. A will is also capable of empowering a guardian to care for someone’s children if they die. While having plans in place before someone dies is very beneficial, people also need to think about what might happen before they die. Some people experience medical emergencies that leave them unable to guide their medical care or handle their finances.

All it takes is a sudden illness or a car crash to leave someone completely incapacitated. A comprehensive estate plan can address incapacitation and vulnerability in addition to what happens after someone dies. How can someone plan for a future medical emergency?

There are special documents for incapacitating emergencies

Florida recognizes a variety of different advance directives that can take effect when someone becomes incapable of communicating on their own behalf or loses their testamentary capacity. A living will can discuss someone’s medical preferences as they relate to pain relief, life support and other forms of care.

A health care surrogate designation allows someone to appoint an individual who they trust to act on their behalf. Such documents are particularly beneficial for those who are unmarried, as only spouses or those empowered in legal paperwork have the authority to make medical decisions for an adult.

People can draft documents explaining their preferences regarding anatomical gifts. That can be very valuable, as families may struggle to make those decisions when doctors realize that preserving someone’s life is unlikely. People also frequently choose to include powers of attorney in their estate plans to name someone they trust to handle financial matters on their behalf so that their finances don’t fall into arrears when they become incapacitated.

Adding living documents to a Florida estate plan can enhance the protection provided by basic documents. Those who think in depth about their preferences and empower others to support them in an emergency can go through life with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they have addressed common risk factors that could otherwise lead to specific medical concerns or financial devastation.