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Estate planning isn't just about writing wills

Some Florida residents may think that estate planning is only about drafting a will or creating a trust to help dispose of any assets left when a person dies. However, there is a lot more to estate planning. A recent tragic incident helps illustrate why it is important for all persons to have a comprehensive estate plan to help tell family members what to do in an emergency.

A 32-year-old hunter fell from a tree on his property and was seriously injured. Doctors determined that the man would be paralyzed from the shoulders down for the rest of his life and that it was unlikely he would be able to breathe without mechanical support. He had no health care directive. Doctors revived the man to ask what he wanted to do, and he indicated that he preferred not to live like that. The tubes were removed, and the man passed peacefully. But what if doctors had not been able to revive him?

Key documents that are part of any complete estate plan are documents addressing end of life decisions and medical care in case an emergency arises. A medical emergency can befall someone of any age and decisions of whether to continue life support aren't only for the elderly. Without a plan, relatives may not know what to do, or the relative that has the information may not be the one with legal authority to make a decision.

An estate attorney may be able to sit down with a person and review the entire picture to determine what documents might be needed. An attorney may then be able to draft important documents, including medical power of attorney or resuscitation instructions.

Source: nwi.com, "ESTATE PLANNING: Estate planning is more than wills, trusts", Christopher W. Yugo, November 16, 2013

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