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When estate planning is a matter of life and death

 

When thinking about estate planning, many people simply view it as a tool for passing on their assets to their loved ones.

While this is certainly one key reason for creating an estate plan, there are other important reasons why it is critical to have one while youre still alive.

 

Case-in-point: a tattoo

Recently, an unconscious hospital admitted a 70-year old Florida man. When the staff went to resuscitate him, they noticed that he had a tattoo that said Do Not Resuscitate.

The hospital staff initially decided that it would be best to ignore the tattoo and take measures to keep him alive. It was possible, they believed, that the tattoo may not have reflected his current wishes or that he acquired the tattoo during a time of duress.

It was only after consulting with an ethics advisor and thoroughly reviewing his case that they honored the request written on the tattoo and allowed the man to die.

Outline your end-of-life medical decisions

Having an up-to-date estate plan can help ensure that health care workers follow your medical wishes if you are incapacitated. In addition to having a do not resuscitate document, you may want to consider having a:

1. Living will: While a last will and testament takes effect after you die, a living will gives you security while you are still alive. A living allows you to state clearly which medical operations you want to receive and whether you would like to be kept alive by artificial means.

2. Power of attorney: If you are incapacitated and in a hospital, it is important to have someone present who will make decisions on your behalf that reflect your interests. A power of attorney allows you to name someone who will make financial or medical decisions for you.

Failing to have these documents in place may force the hospital to make a decision on your behalf, and there is no guarantee they will act in the way you would prefer. Having a complete estate planpreferably written on paper, rather than as a tattoowill provide doctors with greater clarity during serious medical events.

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Brandon Family Law Center, LLC
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Brandon, FL 33511

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