And the Lawyer Said...

No, this is not a lawyer joke. As a matter of fact, the information I am sharing below is very serious and deserves your full attention. Although I have been preparing to write this blog for several months, I have waited until the New Year to do so.

Most of us have some basic goals for 2019, and all of us have hopes of one kind or another of how we would like the year to unfold for us and those we love. Unfortunately, life has a way of throwing a wrench into the gears without warning. Many of you know I am widower. We tend to think life will be one long, wonderfully scenic journey that ends when we quietly ride off into the sunset. Although we expect some challenges along the way, we don’t expect our journey, or our loved one’s journey, to become complicated or to end prematurely.

The suggestions I list below come from research, interviews with a lawyer, and personal experience. Sadly, my wife and I didn’t have the serious “what if” discussions. Please, make the time to have the talk and ask the questions. Do I have an updated Will? Do my loved ones know what to do if I can’t communicate my desires? Do I want the doctors to pull out all of the stops to spare my life, or do I want to be made comfortable and die naturally?

I have now had the discussions. I could die tomorrow, and everything would be in order. Both my son and daughter have a file that has all of the information they will need when I die or can no longer make decisions for myself. Most think a Will is all that is needed, but it is not. Below is a short list that you should consider immediately.

Because they need to be recorded, an Attorney should prepare the following documents. You should keep copies of both at home and in a safe place like a safety deposit box. A designated loved one should know the location of the documents.

  1. A Will

  2. A General Durable Power of Attorney

The following documents can be found online. You don’t need an attorney for these because they don’t have to be recorded. Your family doctor should know your desires, as well as your family members.

  1. Healthcare Power of Attorney

  2. Living Will – Declaration of Desire for Natural Death

  3. DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), if desired.

The above list is only meant to get the discussions going. Do some online research for clarifications and further understanding. Talk to friends and family members, as well as your lawyer. Even the best documents can leave some gray areas. Therefore, make sure your wishes are fully understood.

Stan Means
Elder Source Senior Ministries
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