Should you update your estate plan documents before a major surgery? My name is Andrew Ayers on Estate Planning and Business Law attorney with offices in Edina Minnesota and New York City. And we're gonna talk a little bit about that today. As I'm sure you can imagine, the answers are clear. Yes. So it can be very scary to be confronting the fact that you're going in for a major medical procedure. There's going to be a lot of things on your mind. There's a lot of logistics that get to the point where you're actually taken to the hospital or taken to your doctor's office to have that procedure done. One of the last things in the world you want to have to worry about is are my state plan documents up to speed? Do they have the right people in the right place? This doesn't have to be a long process. Just this week, I met with a client and then about 48 hours later, he signed all of the documents and got everything updated for her. So she was ready to go for her major procedure. And she didn't have to worry about leaving behind a mess for her family if something happens while she's being operated.

So when we're looking at our estate plan, there's gonna be three categories of documents we want to look at to see whether or not need to be updated. And I said whether or not because if you've recently done your estate plan, you may not need to worry about this. Or even if you did your estate plan a few years ago, this may not be a concern to you if everybody's in the right roles, and you're comfortable with what your documents say. And of course, we always recommend that you're meeting with your attorney at least once every three years to make sure these documents are up to date. So if you've just had that meeting, that maybe this is not a concern for you. But for others who it's been a long time since they created their state plan, or maybe there's been some changes in the family since the last time they met with their attorney. It's important to make sure those documents are updated. And of course, if you don't have an estate plan, and you're gonna go have a major medical procedure, now is definitely the time to make sure you've got documents in place and signed. Before we go under the knife. The first category of documents we want to look at is going to be your will and your trust. So these documents say what happens to your things after you're gone. If you'd have children under the age of 18 will often set up a guardianship and a trust provision for them someone to manage their money and someone to take care of them in case something happens. That will and that trust will have a whole plan laid out for you and your assets so that your legacy can be protected. That's of course the worst case scenario. That's the situation where your medical procedures gone horribly wrong or something happens and you're no longer with us. And that case you definitely want to make sure your will or your trust has been updated because you're not going to have a chance to go back and fix it after the fact. The second area of document you want to look at equally important is your healthcare documents. Your healthcare power of attorney or living will be HIPAA authorization. If you're going to be going under the knife and you're going to be unable to speak for yourself for any period of time. You want to make sure you have the correct person designated with your healthcare power of attorney so that doctors know who to speak to in case somebody has to make a decision that healthcare power of attorney will say who the person is and give them powers. The Living Will will say if you get stuck in a vegetative state and they're not sure if you can come back. Do you want them to pull the plug? And finally, that HIPAA authorization is very important, because if the healthcare power of attorney needs to make a decision, we want to make sure they have access to all of your medical records so that they can figure out what's the best decision for you.

The third area we want to look at is a financial power of attorney. If you're going to be coalescing for a while after the procedure, you're not able to manage your finances. That power of attorney will allow you to have somebody else manage your finances for you. You want to make sure that they can work with you and handle things so you don't fall behind on your mortgage or your rent or other expenses. A lot of people these days just put everything on auto pay which is great. But there may be other expenses that pop up. We want to make sure we have somebody there who can handle them for you.

And this brings me to kind of a non legal point that's very important. You need to have a discussion with anybody who has the power of attorney for you. Before you go into this major procedure.

on the healthcare side of things, your documents will often lay out what you would like to have happen or not happen and give them an idea of what decisions you'd like to make. On the financial side. However, you need them to understand what your bills are, what needs to be paid, what's on AutoPay where's the checkbook? Where are the financial accounts, you want to have a system laid out for them so that if they have to take over your finances and you're unable to speak or unable to participate in your day to day management, they know where to go, they know how to pay the mortgage. They know that the telephone bill is on AutoPay but your power bill is not. And we want to make sure that all of this laid out for them so that they're not overwhelmed. Because remember, whoever has the power of attorney for you, chances are they love you. They're part of your family. And if they're not, they're really close to you. And they're going to be in a lot of stress, trying to deal with the fact that they're now managing your affairs on top of managing that. We want to make this process as easy for them as we can.

So after that surgery, as things are going better, you're starting to get back on your feet, you're gonna come out of it. The other thing we want to do is is there anything we need to change? So once you're on the mend, Was there somebody who was making decisions and they were really not the right person for it? Or they just were overwhelmed by the whole process of paying your bills? Well, we're going to be glad we got past that and you're back to your regular life. You're paying your bills, you're managing your life, you're getting round down. But after that procedure, you may want to go back to the attorney and say listen, Jane just wasn't great. This is just not her cup of tea. We need to find somebody else to be the person to manage that.

So there's two ways you can approach this situation. The first way is you can try to do this yourself. You've tried to create all of these documents. There may be forms online from your state from your hospital. But is this something you want to trust to a form online that maybe just mail merges your information and, and doesn't personalize it to? These are your health decisions, your financial decisions? So the second way to do it, the better way to do it, work with a professional, talk to your financial planner, let them know there's a big procedure coming up. And that changes your financial power of attorney and that they may be hearing from her. Talk to doctors make sure they've got all these healthcare documents in mind and in order and filed in your file and talk to an estate planning attorney. We're happy to work with you to make sure we get the right documents in place. As I said the one I did this week. We turned it around about 48 hours later. She was signing the documents and she can have that peace of mind before she goes in for surgery. If you're not sure where to get started, or if you need help updating or even creating your documents, you can go to my website, On the front pages is a Legal Strategy Session button, click that you'll be taken to my schedule we can have a 15 or 20 minute phone call to discuss the best options for you. Make sure those documents are in place so that you can not have to worry about any of this when you're going in for a major medical procedure.

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Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.