Preparing for the unthinkable
Nobody thinks they will be in an auto accident, have a heart attack, have a stroke, or a myriad of other unexpected, sudden incidents. Those are events that happen to other, unfortunate people — not to us.
Yet, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, auto accidents injure over 2.5 million people in the United States each year. Over 42,000 of those accidents result in death.
In addition, according to the American Heart Association, over 80 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease, resulting in over 5 million incidents of stroke and 5 million incidents of heart failure each year.
Of course, these only happen to other people. That's about 13 million “other” people involved in strokes, heart failure, and traffic accidents each year.
What can we do? Of course, we can do what we can to minimize the risk of these events. We can wear our seat belts, drive prudently and follow our doctors' orders. But, the risk of the unexpected remains.
We can prepare now to make sure that things are taken care of in the way we want. That way, we will rest easy knowing that we've done everything we can and can focus on the process of recovering from the incident.
What's involved with getting everything taken care of? A comprehensive estate plan includes the necessary items to accomplish this:
• Health care power of attorney/health care directive: Appoints someone to make medical decisions for you and expresses your wishes regarding end of life decisions.
• Financial power of attorney: Appoints someone to make financial decisions for you.
• HIPAA power: Allows designated individual to get your health information and allows them to visit you in the hospital.
• Living trust: Provides for flexible disposition of your assets the way you want while incorporating Medicaid triggers and avoiding probate.
• Last will: Appoints guardians for any minor children and moves any forgotten items into the trust.
• My legacy workbook: Chronicles your personal and family history and puts forward your hopes, dreams and beliefs.
A qualified estate planning attorney can help you set forth what is really important to you, to handle not just your financial assets, but the wealth of experiences and wisdom you've built over a lifetime. With your comprehensive estate plan in place, if some unthinkable event should happen, you and your family can rest assured that everything's taken care of and you can go about the process of recovering.
Larry Deason is a Yuma attorney who is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. He can be reached at 783-4466 or visit www.deasonlaw.com.