A Lesson from the Life and Death of Joan Rivers

As we all know, Joan Rivers tragically died after a scheduled, routine surgery.  However, her untimely death serves a lesson to us all:  all surgeries have risks, we never know if or when this will happen, and we should be prepared in case it does.  

 Joan had in place an important legal document, namely: a Power of Attorney for Health Care, so as to make it easier for her daughter Melissa to make the decision to remove her mother from life support when the time came.  A Power of Attorney for Health care is more comprehensive than a Living Will (also known as: Health Care Directive) ,  in that the Power of Attorney can nominate someone to make health care decisions on your behalf and is not limited to those decisions that revolve around the removal of life support or use of life sustaining measures.  Both documents comprise a complete estate plan in addition to a document that deals with administration of your estate after death (commonly a Last Will and Testament or a Trust). 

 A Power of Attorney for Health Care guides your agent, the person named to make the decisions on your behalf, in cases where you are still alive, but unable to make decisions on your own behalf.  Each person should have a Power of Attorney for Health Care in case it is needed.  As Joan Rivers situation has shown, you never know if one will be needed.  It is a key component of a complete estate plan, which may also include a Power of Attorney for Finances, a Living Will, a Last Will and Testament, or a Trust.  The attorneys at Pollak Hicks and Alhejaj can guide you in deciding which of these documents is needed for your specific planning situation. 

 For further reading, please read “Estate Planning is for Everyone”

© Roxanne M. Alhejaj, Attorney at Law

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