In Case of Emergency
Often times the loss of human life is not considered “timely” and the nature of death and how or when it occurs can create a varied level of emotion and stress for those you leave behind. While a long, drawn out battle with illness provides ample opportunity for saying good-bye and planning for what will happen during one’s final days and beyond, a tragic, unexpected death can have a traumatic effect on one’s family.Arranging the details of the funeral and burial is no doubt a painful process, and the emotional impact from the loss can last for months if not years. During such a trying time, the last thing any of us wants our grieving family to be tasked with is piecing together the often complicated puzzle of our life.
If you have not already done so, I urge you, and your spouse if applicable, to consider what you would like to happen with your assets upon your demise. After these discussions, you should work with an estate planning attorney who can draft the legal documents that will be necessary to carry out your wishes. Those documents, which are familiar to many of us, may consist of a will, living will, power of attorney for health care, durable power of attorney, and possibly some form of a trust. The importance of going through this process cannot be exaggerated. Possessing a complete and up-to-date estate plan will no doubt provide you with the comfort of knowing that your wishes will be fulfilled from a legal standpoint even if you are not here to see to it and provide peace of mind for your loved ones.
But don’t stop there. Even the best laid plan can be difficult to carry out if nobody else knows about it. In addition to completing your estate plan, I encourage you to consider meeting with your children, siblings, friends or anybody else who will be impacted by your loss to discuss this important topic. To prep for this conversation, it would be helpful to assemble the important information they would need should you pass away or become incapacitated. This should include information about:
- your health insurance, life insurance, investments and bank accounts
- names of your doctor(s), financial advisor(s), accountant, and attorney
- whereabouts of important documents like brokerage statements, insurance policies, your will, power of attorney or others
You could even go so far as to describe the type of funeral or burial you desire.
Without a doubt, this will be an emotional conversation and probably one that neither you nor your family or friends want to have. However, this preparation is important and if an emergency situation does occur in the future you and they will be very happy to have taken the time to plan for it.
To assist you with this process Cleary Gull created a Family Emergency Workbook. This workbook is comprehensive, however, it is not meant to function as a will, power of attorney or any other legal document. It is meant to function as a resource. We believe you will find it very helpful.