If the Unexpected Should Happen, Will You Be Ready? Prepare for the Unexpected with the Help of a Family Law Attorney

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The bombings in Boston that occurred on April 15, 2013 left hundreds critically injured and three dead, with many of the injured facing life-altering medical decisions that had to be made without a moment’s hesitation. This incident has spurred many throughout the country to seek the aide of a family law attorney, like those at Miller Bowles Law, in the preparation of estate planning documents, including the Living Will and the Healthcare Power of Attorney, to ensure they are prepared if the unexpected should happen.

"It is always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected by creating a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney with the help of a family law attorney." - Kate Miller, Partner

As reported by CNN (4/20/13) and other major news outlets over the last two weeks, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, leaving hundreds critically injured and three dead. Many of the injured faced life-altering medical decisions that had to be made without a moment’s hesitation. Additionally, the families of the three deceased victims were left to make difficult decisions they never expected to make, such as possible organ donation and funeral services. This incident horrified the nation and spurred a massive manhunt for those responsible. The bombings also prompted many throughout the country to seek the help of family law attorneys in preparing estate planning documents, including a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney, to ensure their needs and desires are taken care of should the unexpected happen.

When preparing estate planning documents, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is recommended in most all situations. A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a document that appoints a person to act on behalf of the person signing the document (the “principal”) in the event they are unable to speak for themselves in a medical situation. These decisions are typically entrusted to a person whom the principal believes would be willing and able to make the medical decisions the principal would make for themselves. The person who is appointed is called the “health care agent”. The health care agent is often a close relative or family friend, but can also be a doctor who is familiar with the principal’s health history. The principal can set limitations on the health care agent’s powers, and can also provide that the health care agent’s decisions will override any directives in the principal’s Living Will. By agreeing to be the health care agent, the agent is not promising or guaranteeing that he or she will make the final decisions in the event they are called to do so.

In addition to a Healthcare Power of Attorney, another crucial estate planning document is a Living Will. A Living Will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. It is also frequently referred to as an advance directive, a health care directive, or a physician’s directive. Many family law attorneys advice discussing the terms in the Living Will with a doctor to ensure there is no confusion as to what those terms mean. Additionally, family law attorneys advise talking with family members, friends, and other trusted loved ones about the choices made in the Living Will. It is important to ensure that these loved ones are aware of important information such as current health status, beliefs regarding organ donation, decisions regarding potential necessary medical treatment, including life sustaining treatment, and any religious beliefs that may affect potential medical treatment.

The future is uncertain. No one can know the future of their health or their family’s health. Unfortunately, tragedies like the bombings in Boston occur all too often in today’s world and cause drastic changes in the lives of those involved. It is important to be as prepared as possible should the unexpected happen. Speaking with a family law attorney, like those at Miller Bowles Law, and preparing estate planning documents, such as the Healthcare Power of Attorney and the Living Will, is a crucial step in this preparation.

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Christopher Miller

Kate Bowles Miller
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