Comedian Sarah Silverman announced this week that she was recently hospitalized and nearly died of a rare disease called epiglottitis, which is a rare inflammation in the throat that can lead to death by asphyxiation in severe cases.
Silverman described her scary diagnosis, emergency surgery and stay in the intensive care unit in a Facebook post. She expressed gratitude to the medical team that cared for her, and she joked about waking up five days after surgery and not remembering anything.
But her post also took a more serious tone. She said the experience made her think about life and death and the strange feeling of almost dying. She also thanked her family and friends who stayed by her side around the clock.
In addition to being a good reminder of how fragile life is and how little control we have over it, Silverman’s story also reminds us of how important it is to have an effective estate plan.
The importance of estate planning
An effective estate plan includes more than just stating what should happen to your “stuff” when you die. It should also include instructions on the medical care you should receive and who should make decisions on your behalf if you cannot express these wishes yourself due to illness or injury.
For example, a living will is an estate planning tool that states a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment in case the person is unable to express these wishes due to incapacity. Naming durable and medical powers of attorney give decision-making power to those you trust.
Without an effective estate plan, a situation like the one Silverman found herself in can me much more traumatic and chaotic for everyone involved.
Ultimately, none of us knows when we are going to be involved in a serious accident or stricken with a dangerous illness. For this reason, we need to have a plan in place to ensure that we receive care we want, and so our loved ones are not left to fight over decisions.