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Estate planning can include end-of-life care

Florida residents who are considering drafting estate planning documents are usually thinking about what will happen to their assets after they pass away. It's important to think about one's legacy to family, however, there is an important aspect of estate planning that is concerned with matters before death, and this is the question of what to do when someone is no longer capable of conveying their wishes about health decisions.

In a recent article, one couple told a news reporter about having to make the final decision to remove a friend from life support after he suffered a severe brain injury in a fall. The friend, a priest, had no other family to rely upon, and so he asked his longtime friends and parishioners to serve as executors of his will and to make his health care decisions.

Sometime after they agreed, the 66-year-old priest fell and was badly injured. Medical professionals called on the couple to decide whether to operate. After an agonizing period of discussion, the couple decided their friend should be removed from life support. They stayed with him and held his hand as he died.

It's hard enough to contemplate what happens after death, but it is very uncomfortable for people to think about what might happen should they become incapacitated by illness or injury. Still, it is important to save loved ones the agony of having to make life or death decisions.

By drafting estate planning documents such as a living will, Florida residents can make their health care wishes known and can do away with painful decisions for their loved ones. They can also come up with a plan to pay for their long-term care so that their loved ones don't have to.

Source: Post-Crescent, "A matter of life and death," Cheryl Anderson, April 13, 2013

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