Today is National Health Care Directives Day. A day to talk about death. A day to talk about Living Wills and Health Care Power of Attorney forms, referred to as advance health care directives.
Why is it important to talk about dying and health care directives. It’s simple. We will all die. However, the way we will die will be different than the way our grandparents died. They died fast, due to acute illnesses like influenza or pneumonia. A government study envisions that today, 80 percent will die a lingering death from things like Alzheimer’s, emphysema, cancer and Parkinson’s. Our children or our spouse will need to make choices on our behalf between life…and quality of life.
When having dinner with your friends or family tonight, think about that sobering number. Three out of the four people sitting at the dinner table will die a lingering death. Someone will need the legal authority to make health care choices on your behalf. Someone will be hoping they are making the choice you would have wanted.
Rather than talking about the engagement ring Brad gave Angelina….make your dinner conversation important. Ask yourself these questions:
Who do you want to make health care choices on your behalf?
What choices do you want them to make?
Do you want to donate your organs or your tissues?
Have you completed a living will and a health care power of attorney form documenting these wishes. If so, where are they? In California and some other states, these two forms are combined in a single form referred to as an Advance Health Care Directive.
Your estate planning lawyer can help you complete a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney form. You have the right to complete these forms without involving a lawyer.
Hers’s some resources that may help you start the discussion:
A great presentation by Dr. Peter Saul at the TED conference called “Let’s talk about dying.”
Basically, it says that you should make sure that the originals of all of your valuable papers are put somewhere safe and that a loved one knows where that safe place is. Otherwise, when you become incapacitated or after you die there may be a great deal of frustration and unnecessary work as your heir or estate representative tries to figure out what you’ve done and how to prove it.
Check out this article and also check out Die Smart for more information on what to do.
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