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Heart attacks, car accident deaths rise on Thanksgiving Day

Florida residents may want to be wary of the deadliest holiday of the year, Thanksgiving Day, as it kicks off an entire season of higher death rates. In part, these deaths are because of the cold weather and more flu, but on Thanksgiving Day, the high death rate is caused by heart attacks and motor vehicle accidents. The holiday marks a shift in behaviors, even for just one day, that contribute to these high death rates.

In the case of heart attacks, experts suggest that it may be because people consume more alcohol, food and salt than they would on a normal day. Thanksgiving may also be a stressful day for many people. Furthermore, people may travel for Thanksgiving and forget their medication.

Drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts are among the behaviors that contribute to the higher number of motor vehicle accidents. In 2012, there were 50,000 nonfatal accidents on Thanksgiving Day and another 764 fatal ones. Of the passengers killed, 60 percent did not have seat belts on. At least 40 percent of the accidents involved a drunk driver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is warning people to take precautions such as making sure their tires and windshield wipers are in good working order, planning out the route in advance and leaving ample time to get there.

As this data demonstrates, fatalities may occur suddenly. People who die suddenly in a motor vehicle accident or from a heart attack might not have left an estate plan behind. This means that in addition to the stress of dealing with a loved one's death, a family must also try to work out what to do with the person's assets. The state will decide who gets what, and this can leave some loved ones with nothing. Estate planning ensures that someone is chosen to manage the estate and that assets go to the right people.

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