A common thread of my columns is the need to “plan when can.” This stems from what I consider to be the first rule of proper estate planning . . . ensure you maintain control of your estate.
In this case, “estate” means not just your possessions or “stuff.” It also means you. Should you become incapacitated, it is important that the decisions made about you be based on your instructions, not the wishes others may have for you.
The most sobering example may be the person who is left completely incapacitated with no chance of recovery. Some call this a “vegetative state” or “brain dead.” If you are in this condition, is it wise to force a loved one to decide what happens next? Isn’t your family already in the difficult position coming to grips with your condition? Is it fair to ask them to decide whether to keep you alive or let you go?
These are not just hypothetical situations for you or for me. Sadly, a member of our extended family recently passed. He went in for surgery but his body simply did not have the strength to recover. Although the surgery was not necessary for his immediate survival, he hoped the surgery would prolong his life.
Unfortunately, he soon lapsed into a coma requiring life support. It was not long before a doctor came with the news no one wanted to hear. Recovery was no longer an option.
Fortunately, this family member had in place a living will that instructed what would happen in this circumstance. After giving the family a chance to gather, the doctor withdrew life support allowing for a peaceful passing.
How much more difficult this situation would have been had family been expected to decide – and agree upon – what would happen and when. Protect your family from what may be a traumatic decision by taking control of your estate.
© 2016 Steven J Wright