Many believe the only goals of estate planning are to account for an individual's assets, and the distribution of a person's estate to intended heirs and beneficiaries. A comprehensive view of estate planning encompasses a broad scope of matters - including questions about end-of-life wishes.
"Death with dignity" is an issue receiving much attention these days. As baby boomers advance into their senior years, many confront those "what if" questions due to the unanticipated decline in their quality of life. There are provisions in current law that support limited personal choice in end-of-life situations, but such choices must be legally documented.
An array of estate planning tools
Some important estate planning tools include, but are not limited to:
- Living Will
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order
Documents which specify the medical treatments an individual wants administered or not administered in the event he or she is seriously ill and/or incapacitated are called Advance Directives. One of the most important elements of an Advance Directive is the naming of a health care surrogate - the person chosen to accept the responsibility for making those decisions on behalf of the creator of the directive.
Advanced care planning is complicated and can generate significant emotions within a family. Experts generally agree that it's best to discuss the issue with family, loved ones, and an attorney before a crisis strikes, so that appropriate legal documents are put in place well before they are needed. Even younger people, especially those with families, should face the important task of making these decisions while they are in good health, even though they certainly intend to live a long life. Some instances of unplanned occurrences related to estate planning and advance directives include serious personal injury or wrongful death due to an accident or injury, and sudden illnesses - like cancer. We all know that these tragic situations can occur in anyone's life at any time.
Experienced attorneys utilize the documents mentioned in this article in addition to estate planning documents you may be familiar with - such as a Last Will and Testament, Revocable Trust, Family Trust, etc. Sound legal advice and the appropriate documents for each situation provide family and loved ones with specific direction upon an individual's incapacitation - or even death.
Be sure to contact our estate planning attorneys today to answer your important questions about comprehensive estate planning and related Advance Directives. The desired outcomes of your personalized estate plan are providing the peace of mind your family and loved ones deserve, ensuring your wishes are followed at the time of your death, and that your documents are soundly aligned with the laws of the State of Florida.