How can an estate plan help me in injury or illness?
Many people do not understand the full range of tasks that estate planning covers and think it only refers to determining what happens to the things you own when you die.
Planning for death is a crucial part of estate planning. Yet, an estate plan can also benefit you while you are alive.
A health care directive helps medics understand your wishes
As the last year has made clear, illness can strike without warning and with devastating consequences. However healthy you are, a disease could cut through your defenses and leave you in a critical condition. Accidents can do the same. The papers are full of people who assumed they had years to live, only for a car crash or other incident to leave them on the verge of death.
If you are in a critical state, medical staff may need to make choices about the treatment they give you. If your condition leaves you unable to speak, you will not have a say in the matter. By creating an advance health care directive, you can specify your preferences in advance. For example, would you want medics to keep you alive on food fed through tubes. Would you accept a blood transfusion, or would you be happy to donate your body parts if you do not survive? You can also name someone as your health care power of attorney to make those decisions for you.
A financial power of attorney helps life go on while you are indisposed
Another critical aspect is to empower someone to carry out financial tasks on your behalf if you cannot. If you are unconscious in a hospital bed, you could fall behind on paying the bills if you have not given someone power of attorney to do so.
Life is unpredictable, so it pays to prepare. Remember that you can alter your estate plan as your wishes change, but the important thing is to have one.