If you are a first responder – police officer, firefighter, EMT, etc. – you put your life at risk every day when you go to work. Beyond the workplace, the high level of occupational stress also puts you at greater risk for long-term health problems, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, cancer, and suicide. That is why first responders need to be prepared for the worst with careful, thorough estate planning.
Key Estate Planning Decisions
The following are key estate planning decisions that first responders need to make to prepare their families in the event they are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.
- Advance medical directive: If you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, an advance medical directive provides instructions to your family and health care providers about the type of care you want to receive. For example, it can instruct your family about the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), ventilator use, or tube feeding.
- Power of attorney: If you are seriously injured and unable to make decisions about your own finances or personal matters, a power of attorney is a legal document that empowers another individual with the authority to make those decisions on your behalf. There are several types of powers of attorney that differ based on their triggering event. It is crucial that the person you name as your agent in the power of attorney is someone you trust, as they could have substantial authority to access your bank accounts, sell assets, and so forth.
- Will: No matter the size or value of your estate, everyone should have a will, including and especially first responders. A will is a legal document that provides instructions for the distribution of your assets and property and the care for your minor children in the event of your passing. This document is critical. Without it, decisions regarding your estate will be left to a judge who will follow a strict line of succession, starting with your spouse, then your children, and then other family members. Your last will and testament is your final opportunity to dictate if and how you want to include certain family members in the distribution of your estate. Your will typically names an executor for your estate in your will. The person you name as your executor should be someone you trust who is capable of assuming this significant responsibility.
First Responders Should Contact a Manassas Estate Planning Lawyer
If you are a police officer, firefighter, EMT, or other first responder and you have not made these important estate planning decisions, you should contact an estate planning lawyer right away. A lawyer who is experienced in working with first responders can assist you with properly documenting these decisions so that there is no question about your wishes, preferences, and directions.
If you need assistance getting started, our Manassas estate planning lawyers are here to guide you through your options. To schedule an appointment at our local law firm, simply call our office at 703-492-9955 and mention this blog post.