Tuesday, tennis champion Serena Williams wrote an article for CNN detailing her near-death experience. After an emergency c-section to deliver her baby, Williams experienced life-threatening complications. She acknowledged her talented team of doctors but said that many women aren’t fortunate enough to receive this type of medical care.
It’s true that more U.S. women are dying from pregnancy or childbirth complications. A report published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that from 2000 to 2014, the maternal mortality rate increased 27 percent. This means there are 24 deaths per 100,000 live births.
With all that is happening in the world, everyone should prepare in case a tragedy should strike. Still, even if you die of natural causes, it is essential to ensure that you have these three documents in place:
1. Power of Attorney
By designating a power of attorney you will grant a person the authority to handle your finances on your behalf. If you become incapacitated for any reason, you can rest assured that a person that you trust keeps your finances in order. In addition to financial management, your power of attorney should also discuss who will make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so.
2. Living Will or Advanced Medical Directive
This document allows you to express your desires if ever faced with end-of-life medical treatment. You can express whether you want doctors to try to save your life if your heart stops. Sometimes at the last moments of ones life, the person is unable to voice their wishes. Perhaps you don’t want a feeding tube but would prefer to go quickly. No one can confirm this unless you write down your choice.
This document clearly outlines your wishes, not those of family at an already difficult time. In fact it can alleviate family drama by taking the choice out of their hands. It’s important to let someone know that your have an advanced medical directive and where the paperwork is located. You can then file it with your doctor office if you desire.
Most people are familiar with wills but still don’t have one. A will allows you to express what property you want to pass and to which person. Often, upon a family members death, the survivors fight over the couch, the artwork, and the money. What if two of your children live out of state? Do you want the local child scavenging through your items first just because they have a key? A will helps your loved ones avoid many aguments and disappointments during an already challenging time.
A will can also designate who you want to care for your minor children. If you don’t have a will upon death, the state will determine who gets your property. Plus, that process can take a very long time. Keep it simple, create a will.
Understandably, many people are afraid to have these discussions because they assume that they have plenty of time. Or they may feel that they can’t afford it. It may even feel uncomfortable talking about your own death. However, handling your affairs is extremely important.
Getting your house in order is very easy to do and doesn’t require Serena Williams’ money either. You can contact an attorney to help you draft these three documents. If you can’t afford an attorney, websites like Legal Zoom and the upcoming GCE’s Who’s Your Lawyer allow for cheaper, quick, and easy document drafting. If you are in the military or a veteran, the military’s legal office can draft these documents at no charge. In conclusion, protect yourself and your assets by obtaining these documents as soon as possible. Tomorrow may be too late.