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Odom Incident Should be a Wake-Up Call Regarding Estate Documents

Many people throughout Pennsylvania and throughout the country have been watching the latest in the saga of former National Football League player Lamar Odom and his estranged wife, Khloe Kardashian. Odom was initially hospitalized and in a coma after being found unconscious in a brothel in Nevada.

The two had already signed divorce papers. However, because of a backlog in the California courts, the divorce had not yet been finalized.

Because Odom reportedly had no living will, Kardashian, as his legal spouse, was still responsible for making decisions regarding his health care and potentially end-of-life decisions during the days when his condition was precarious. No doubt, this sparked some concern and conversation throughout the country about the importance of revising your estate planning documents when you make the decision to end a marriage.

The good news is that reportedly after this tragic event, the couple has decided to call off their divorce and that Odom’s medical condition appears to be improving. However, the issue of assigning and keeping your health care proxy, power of attorney and other legal responsibilities up-to-date is still one that everyone should consider. A divorce, even when it is finalized, does not automatically remove a spouse who has been assigned any of these responsibilities

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This case also spotlights the importance of having a living will and/or advance directive that lays out in detail your wishes regarding if and when various health care and life-saving measures should be stopped. This will give medical professionals and others guidance when you’re not able to do so. This can save loved ones from having to make heart-wrenching decisions with little or no guidance.

If you are undergoing any life changes, whether a marriage, break-up, the birth of a child or the death of someone whom you may have assigned as a person to make decisions for you, it’s essential that you contact your estate planning attorney for advice. If you don’t have any estate planning documents, now is the time to get them. No matter what your age, you never know what the future will bring.

Source: WealthManagement.com, “Odom and Kardashian: Why Living Wills Matter Living wills and other advance directives are very important,” David H. Lenok, Oct. 15, 2015

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