Face the possibility of incapacity
No one wants to think about the possibility of physical incapacity. As with life insurance and disability planning, though,
you do it for the ones you love. So pick a day. Let's say the first Wednesday of next month, your day off. Designate it as
the day you dedicate to preparing for the possibility that you might be laid up in a hospital or nursing home unexpectedly.
Here is what you will do on that day:
- Download a living will and health care proxy, and then execute them. These will allow a specific person, other than yourself,
to handle important matters affecting your life in the event you are in a coma, become too ill to make decisions and sign
documents or suffer serious brain damage.
- Discuss your decision with the named designee so that he or she understands what type of care you wish to have in the event
you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. You can use this discussion also to satisfy yourself that the named person
can handle these responsibilities and does not feel burdened by them.
- Shop for long-term care insurance and ask your multi-line insurance agent all the questions you can.
- Meet with a lawyer to review exactly what you can and cannot expect from Medicaid in the event you have a stroke, a heart
attack or some other serious illness that might leave you alive but physically incapacitated for a protracted period.
Leave a roadmap for your survivors
Unless you want your state government to decide who gets your money and your stuff after you're gone, you need a will. A will
can also protect your widow or widower from financial ruin at the hands of unscrupulous "friends" interested in blowing your
net worth on exotic vacations or crazy business schemes.
Of course, a will is of much less value to your loved ones if they have to spend months or years trying to figure out what
money and investments you own and where they are located. Take the time to prepare a net worth statement, which will help
guide your spouse, children and executor to where your stuff is and who oversees its management. For example, if some of your
wealth is in a real estate LLC (such as your practice property), leave information in writing as to where you keep the LLC
paperwork and what lawyer or accountant can help liquidate the holdings.
Finally, consider doing some incredibly helpful pre-planning by organizing your physical possessions. Two very popular television
programs on the History Channel are American Pickers and Pawn Stars. If you watch any episode, you will realize how frustrating
it can be for a widow or widower to sift and sort through the deceased's personal property. My point? Spend time now, your
family will thank you for the effort.
Dr. Allen is president of the Associates in Veterinary Law P.C.