Schiavo Case Raises Awareness

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

The Schiavo case has forced many people to consider their own wills.
So what's out there for people in Schaivo's situation?

Elizabeth Hupert realized the importance of having a will after dealing with her father's unexpected death.

"I was left as his heir to make decisions that he could have made while he was still alive that would've made things easier," she said.

Hupert's father had a will, but it wasn't until months after his death that she found it. It was then that she decided to have her own will prepared.

"I needed to make arrangements for my care should something happen and I needed to make them sooner rather than later," said Hupert.

Attorney Lewis Martin handled Hupert's estate planning, which included what is known as an 'Advance Medical Directive', or living will.

The first of the two-part document allows you to decide beforehand what you want done if you are ever in a vegetative state.

"The second part of the 'Advance Medical Directive' is the designation of agents to make health decisions for them, because if they don't, than doctors are going to revert to the code of Virginia," said Martin.

In Virginia, health decisions for a patient without a living will would go first go to an appointed guardian, then the patients spouse, an adult child, the parent, and finally an adult sibling.

Hupert, who's divorced, listed her mother as the decision-maker in her will. Her mother is someone she can trust to make decisions for her.

Hupert said, "You can't predict whether you're going to go today or tomorrow; it was the most important decision of my life."

An 'Advance Medical Directive', or living will can be included in an estate plan for usually under $1,000.

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