There are plenty of misconceptions about estate planning, especially now during the Coronavirus pandemic. One of the most common misconceptions is that estate planning only allows someone to have a say in what happens to his or her belongings after death. In fact, that is not the case. Instead, a comprehensive Florida estate plan also gives you a voice if you are seriously hurt or ill, and cannot express your wishes.
How can your estate plan provide you this critical protection? It does so in two ways:
- The first is by giving you a legal tool through which you may leave written instructions and guidance.
- The second is by allowing you to give legal authority to someone you trust to ensure your wishes are carried out if you are unable to do so.
This means it is critical to update your estate plan to reflect your current wishes if your health has changed. In the health care context, there are certain aspects of your estate plan that you may want to revise. These include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Your healthcare surrogate designation. This is the legal document in which you authorize someone to make important healthcare decisions for you if you cannot do so. Know that this is the legal document in which you specify what you want to happen to you if you are critically ill or injured and cannot speak for yourself. Consider naming a new agent if the person you initially selected no longer feels comfortable making decisions that would be compatible with your wishes.
- Your living will. This is the document in which you would indicate the type and extent of medical intervention you would want, if any, if you were in one of three conditions. These conditions are: an end stage condition, terminal condition, or persistent vegetative state. It is important to review this document periodically to see if it still reflects your wishes in light of a recent diagnosis or worsening condition. As long as you have capacity, you may make any changes, as needed, with your attorney.
To explain further, keep in mind changes to certain parts of your estate plan will only be honored if you are legally capable of making them at the time. Depending on your personal circumstances, there may be other aspects of your Florida estate plan that you wish to revisit in light of health changes. As always, we are happy to offer the legal advice and guidance you may need in these circumstances. Please call our law firm to schedule a meeting at your convenience.