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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that humankind doesn’t like thinking about dying – and it makes us notoriously bad at planning for it. After all, who would want to plan for death, when life is all about living? The thing is, in my line of work, I see all too often how planning for death can actually help people live life to its fullest.
It was the recent press story about Mr Visser that really struck a chord and brought home the importance of planning for the event of a death – particularly where it has been untimely.
The article tells the story of a man, Mr Visser, living a perfectly healthy life with his family near Reading. He was on his way home when he was involved in a car accident, just a few yards from his own front door. The accident left him with brain injuries, which became his cause of death six days later.
Leaving behind a wife and two children, Mrs Visser told of how it was actually a comfort to know that Mr Visser had already completed a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) document, as well as his will. In fact, Mrs Visser said that at the time of need, the LPA was actually more important than the will itself. It enabled her to carry out her husband’s dying wishes, so that he could live life to the fullest, until the very end.
Mrs Visser said her husband’s LPA stated: "If he couldn't be a daddy, if he couldn't go to a rugby match, if he couldn't provide for his family by working, and if he couldn't be physically active, he didn't want to be here."
These words meant that Mrs Visser could legally present the hospital with these wishes and that they no longer had the power to make life decisions for her husband – but, thanks to the LPA, she did. Mr Visser’s life support machine was switched off two days later.
Whilst this is a sad and truly harrowing story none of us dare to think of facing, it does happen. The very fact that we don’t want to acknowledge it is stopping us taking action – and it shouldn’t be that way. An LPA, and indeed a will, are legal documents there to give peace of mind.
Without them, you could find that not only any medical wishes are not carried out in accordance with how you or your family would like, but also, any assets or finances could be entailed away.
The only way to ensure your family has peace of mind is to make sure any wills or LPAs are kept up to date. If you would like more information, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.