Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman
October 29 is World Stroke Day. We certainly hope a stroke never strikes you or your loved ones, but you have to be prepared. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) references a study from the American Heart Association Stroke Statistics Committee that says strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S., and the highest death rates from stroke are in the southeastern United States. Too bad so much delicious food is fried. About 17.6% or 140,000 individuals literally die of strokes each year, but even that’s way too many. Strokes can strike without warning and at any age, and 25% of the strokes each year are not the victims’ first strokes.
From a legal perspective, Alabamians need to make sure that their healthcare directives, healthcare power of attorney, and wills or trusts are in order to deal with long-term care situations caused by strokes. The focus here is not who will inherit your antique fishing lure collection. It’s about how you want to be cared for if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated by a stroke.
Survivor Stories on the CDC website give insight into the long-term care and recovery of stroke victims. These stories are great background for thinking through how to define the care you would prefer before there is a need. Once you have a strategy, work with an experienced estate planning attorney to develop the right legal documents with the right signatures, witnesses, and/or notarizations.
Review your draft legal paperwork for long-term care with your healthcare power of attorney and financial power of attorney who can be two different individuals. If you have medical and accounting expertise in the family, assign the right person to the right role. Just be sure they are willing to accept the roles before you finalize your legal documents with your attorney. Make sure your powers of attorney have copies of everything they would need if you were both temporarily and permanently incapacitated. Remember that estate plans are for the living, not just the heirs.
-Melanie B. Holliman, JD
Partner at Bradford & Holliman
Estate Planning, Trusts & Special Needs
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