The unexpected death of actor Luke Perry hit many of his fans hard. Only 52, Mr. Perry could reasonably have expected to spend another 30 years or more with his family. He is, of course, not the first celebrity to die at a young age, leaving a hole where a dynamic and beloved personality used to be.
Lessons to Learn
It is critically important to recognize the signs of a stroke. This New York Times article is authored by a woman whose life was saved due to the quick thinking and intervention of her brother. It shows the importance of recognizing the signs of a stroke and getting medical help immediately. Research the signs of a stroke so you can be aware in case a loved one exhibits the most common symptoms. Understanding the signs and acting quickly can save a life.
Expect the Unexpected
We do not know the day or the hour when our time here on Earth will come to an end. Young people die, too. We cannot wait until we are “ready” to plan for our deaths. The prevalence of the opioid epidemic, the rising rates of heart attack and stroke, and the vagaries of weather, cancer, or simple bad luck mean that each of us is at risk of unexpected death, either ourselves or someone we love.
Adding Meaning to Your Life
This knowledge doesn’t have to be depressing or morbid. On the contrary: when we recognize the sure end in our future, it throws our present into starker relief. It can bring meaning to otherwise mundane aspects of everyday life. Most importantly, this new sight can help us determine whether we are on the right path.
Correct Your Course
Steve Jobs, Apple founder and tech visionary, is a great example of what we hope to accomplish through our estate planning services. At his famous Stanford commencement speech in 2005, Jobs said:
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
At the time, Jobs knew of the cancer diagnosis that would eventually take his life in 2011. Having already tried alternative treatments — a decision he would later regret — he was at that time pursuing conventional treatments aggressively. The knowledge of his ultimate demise spurred him to make his life count, and motivated him to make changes that brought him great success and personal fulfillment. Are you looking at your life in the context of your death?
Put the Right Plans in Place
Jobs’ change in opinion regarding medical treatment is more common than most people realize. While your attitude towards doctors, hospitals, and interventions may be consistent for most of your life, finding yourself in an end-of-life situation will often radically change those attitudes.
Had Jobs been incapacitated, the decision to undergo surgery and chemotherapy or radiation would have fallen to his Agent under a Medical Power of Attorney. Not everyone in his family agreed with his decision to delay surgery, or shared his values that the body is a sacred home for the spirit and should not be violated. The same is true for many of us. Unless you have the right documents in place to assist your family in carrying out your wishes when you are incapacitated, you may find yourself in a situation you don’t want. Worse, your family members could spend your last days arguing with each other instead of helping each other through a difficult situation.
Waiting is not helpful
Don’t wait to plan. Speak to your loved ones about your values and desires for end-of-life care. Be sure to have valid Medical Power of Attorney documents and a Living Will that can guide your loved ones in an incapacity situation. Do things that you are passionate about. Leave a legacy. Focus on what sparks joy.
If you’re ready to plan for the unexpected, give us a call. Our compassionate and experienced staff will walk you through the process of planning for your future with care and humor, so you can focus on what matters to you in the here and now.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]