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Major Surgery? Estate Planning Tips

Getting the news you have to undergo major surgery is never easy. Preparing for absences from work, planning for childcare, parent care, household responsibilities, medical bills, etc. will be among the things you may worry about. Hopefully, reviewing your estate plan will also be a priority. But what if you only have a few weeks—or even days—to react? Who should you call? How can you concentrate enough to get this work done? Make the best use of your time by considering the following tips.

Who should you call?

After notifying loved ones of the impending surgery, you should call your estate planning attorney to ensure your documents are up-to-date and accurately reflect your current assets and wishes. Update any representatives and heirs in your will, and check the named beneficiaries on any insurance policies. If you do not have a will or trust in place, an attorney can usually draft a simple will to cover your most significant assets.

You will also want to contact your healthcare power of attorney to notify them of your surgery and review any changes to your wishes regarding healthcare decisions. If you do not have a healthcare power of attorney, now is the time to make sure one is executed. This can also be completed on short notice.

What should you do?

At a minimum, you should attempt to have the following documents in place:

  • living will

  • healthcare power of attorney

  • financial power of attorney

  • medical records release (allowing the release of your medical records to other persons)

  • will

  • trust

  • documentation of all accounts and location of important documents

Short on time?

If you are short on time, you may want to focus your attention on identifying key people you trust to serve on your behalf in the event you are unable, including a healthcare power of attorney and financial power of attorney, and clearly communicating your wishes so there is no confusion about what you would have wanted.

If you have minor children, establishing a legal guardian is essential and can be done through a will. Keep in mind, while a simple will can be drafted quickly, states have varying requirements for the execution of wills that may need to be taken into consideration when attempting to have it prepared on short notice.

Making a list of your assets, their locations, and any identifying information will help your loved ones locate your assets if necessary. You can also make sure that your attorney has copies of your documents and information and provide his or her contact information to your loved ones so they can advise them as needed.

We make it a practice to keep in contact with our clients, at least annually, in anticipation of this very situation. We know estate planning may be the last thing you want to be thinking about right before major surgery. Nevertheless, we are here to assist you in obtaining peace of mind knowing your documents are in order. Our goal is for you and your loved ones to be able focus all their energies and attention on your successful surgery and recovery.

Live with your bags packed!

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