Who is Terri Shiavo?

In February of 1990, Terri Schiavo was a 26 year-old woman who suffered a cardiac arrest and fell into what some physicians characterize as a persistent vegetative state. Since that time, her name has been the subject of a law, lawsuits, hundreds of news reports, thousands of articles and countless websites. Despite all the reports and writings, we still do not know who Terri is. We may never know.

However, we know her legacy. We will remember Terri as the woman who was caught between her parents and husband who were fighting over whether she lived or died. I do not believe this is the legacy Terri or anyone would choose. You, unlike Terri, can choose your legacy by obtaining a living will through your estate planning.

A living will is also called a Declaration Regarding Life Prolonging Procedures. The document, in the event you are incapable of stating your preferences, allows you to decide whether any life prolonging procedures are used. It is only one document that encompasses an estate planning package.

Another document is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, which appoints a person to act on your behalf. The surrogate can then exercise the powers you give to your surrogate regarding your health care.

Next is a Durable Family Power of Attorney, which lays out a procedure for a person of your choosing to handle your financial affairs, if you are unable to do so.

Finally, there is your Last Will and Testament. As you are aware, your Last Will and Testament divides up your estate in the manner you so choose.

Although, some individuals believe the documents listed above are only for the elderly or individuals with children, this is not the case. Everyone who is over 18 years old should have these documents, if they want choose their legacy. Of course, there are other documents, which individuals may need to meet their specific goals. If you would like to discuss your legacy and estate planning needs, please contact Seth R. Nelson, Esquire at 813.225.1918, ext. 29 or at srn@whh-law.com.

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