Reality TV personality Khloe Kardashian and former NBA player Lamar Odom were in the midst of a public divorce, after an extended separation, when Lamar’s drug overdose put him into a coma.
Lamar regained consciousness, but suffered severe cognitive and physical injuries which may never fully heal.
Lamar never created a health care power of attorney (HCPOA).
He never designated in writing who was to make medical decisions on his behalf if (as happened) he became unable to make them for himself, or what advanced procedures he did and did not want.*
Since Lamar had no HCPOA, the law empowered Khloe, still legally Lamar’s wife, to make Lamar’s medical decisions for him (until he could do so for himself).
Not Lamar’s parents or siblings. Not Lamar’s trusted friend or advisor. But Lamar’s soon-to-be ex-wife.
Is that what Lamar wanted? Lamar’s family? Khloe? We may never know.
What we do know is that Lamar’s tragedy highlights three important and easily accomplished estate planning lessons.
First, every adult–old and young, healthy and not, married and single–should have a HCPOA. Otherwise, your health care decisions may be made by someone you would not choose on your own.
Second, your HCPOA should be reviewed every few years, and at major life changes, such as a separation or divorce. You don’t want your first husband deciding whether to “pull the plug” while your second husband helplessly holds your hand.
Third, the first two lessons apply to all estate plans. Every adult needs a complete, properly tailored estate plan, including a will/trust, financial power of attorney, HCPOA, and account and insurance beneficiary designations.
And every estate plan should be periodically reviewed, as a matter of course and at each major life change.
Be the star of your own reality—contact your FOS attorney to create or review your estate plan, including your HCPOA.
*Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS.