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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Are Your Legal “Ducks in a Row”?

By Julia Dean, J.D.

My daughter loved yellow rubber ducks as a child. It was her favorite bath time toy. Her fascination over these yellow rubber ducks continued all her life. She had a collection of them, even as a married woman, prominently displayed in her home. She loved having everything in order and having her “ducks in a row”.

My daughter’s life ended far too soon, at the young age of 33. Yet, she was ready. While she was struggling to breathe and on a ventilator fighting COVID, we didn’t have to scramble to try to get her “legal affairs in order”, as doctors often have to tell their patients. She couldn’t have signed anything anyways as she was sedated for most of her six and a half weeks in COVID ICU. As an incredible gift to me, her husband and the rest of the family, her legal “ducks were in a row”. She had signed a HIPAA Authorization that allowed her husband, her Dad, myself and other loved ones to be able to talk to her doctors and nurses about her otherwise protected healthcare information. This allowed us to communicate with her healthcare providers each day of her struggle. Not being able to go into the hospital to see and hold my precious daughter was excruciating enough, but had there been no communication at all, this would have compounded the agony and frustration. Gratefully, she had thoughtfully planned for her own incapacity, even at her young age. I felt so loved by her that she had planned beforehand so that I could communicate with her doctors and nurses in order to understand what was happening to her during her hospital stay, long before the need arose.

Her husband was my daughter’s Agent under Medical Power of Attorney, so he was able to make her medical decisions when she couldn’t, not a doctor. Even when she was no longer with us, she loved us in already having decided she wanted cremation and where her ashes would be scattered. She loved us by having her Will in place and making sure it was a valid Will done by an attorney. There were no surprises, no arguments and everything went according to how my daughter had determined—all her “ducks were in a row”, even after her passing.

Whether you plan or not, you will leave a legacy. Will your legacy leave a good taste in your loved one’s “mouths” or will it be bitter, leaving uncertainty and even cause destruction for your family? You can minimize and often eliminate difficult issues with pre-planning. Disability planning is just as important as legacy planning. Take time now to handle these critical matters. Life is uncertain, but you can have peace knowing your legal “ducks are in a row”.

Julia Dean is the Managing Attorney at The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm in Sugar Land, focusing in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, Guardianships and Elder Law. Julia Dean has been named a Lawyer of Distinction and has received numerous awards recognizing her as a Top Attorney in Estate Planning, internationally, nationally and locally. The Dean Law Firm, PLLC has been voted Reader’s Choice for Attorneys in Fort Bend with Living Magazine many years and also received multiple awards for outstanding client service. The Dean Law Firm is committed to bringing you peace of mind by providing thoughtful and strategic planning for your family.

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