This week Maya, a 66-year-old woman grieving the death of her parents within six months of each other, makes decisions about her final care, services and assets and decides whom she wants to make medical or financial decisions if she becomes unable.
I’d made good progress over the past weeks with Rita helping me start an End-of-Life plan. There were so many important issues to think about. I was finding the old adage, “knowledge is power” to be true! As I made decisions I did feel more empowered. Making my own choices at my own pace was a big part of that.
The more I looked into issues and costs the more I understood what I would need. Deciding my personal health care, final living arrangements and services were the major topics. For example, I’ve had Type II diabetes for years and managing it impacts my decision about long-term care options.
It was also helpful talking with my family about my choices and to listen to their questions and concerns. I learned to talk openly about their fears about my passing and the benefits of having an honest conversation. They now better understand my choices and I learned about their needs. I learned which of my personal heirlooms would mean the most to my children and who could help provide End-of-Life care.
Rita’s suggestion to start slowly, set reasonable expectations and not to discuss too much at once really helped. “Like creating your End-of-Life plan, real End-of-Life conversations take some time. Try to remain patient and focused on your goal of providing peace-of-mind for your family,” she said.
A lot of my decisions were underway, although some important ones still remained. It’s one thing to say what I would want when the inevitable happens. It’s another to make it all legal. I wondered, ‘Do I have to hire a lawyer?’, What if I change my mind or my situation changes?’ and ‘What if the people I chose can’t help as we’d agreed?’
Rita suggested I complete a few legal documents starting with an Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD), also called a Living Will. I completed this document to state my care preferences if I become unable to make my own decisions. Rita assured me that I could change it anytime. My AHD includes a legal document called a Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA), which identifies the person I trust to make medical decisions for me.I found all the forms I needed at my Doctor’s office. I also completed an Organ Donor Form so I could help others after I pass away.
Rita also suggested I complete a Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA) to appoint someone to make financial decisions for me, and a Will to state my wishes for my final services and all my assets. She said without a Will my personal and digital assets could get tied up in probate court where the court distributes my assets for me. I definitely wanted to avoid that!
I chose three people I trust to help after I pass away. Rita would serve as my MPOA or Healthcare Proxy. My technology-savvy brother Chris would serve as my FPOA, executor and digital executor. He would manage my personal financial and digital assets including online accounts after I pass away. Rita reminded me to give my brother my computer, tablet and smart phone passwords, as well as any other online account passwords. I chose my trusted friend Sandra to serve as my backup representative if Rita or Chris weren’t able to help as planned.
I still wasn’t sure about hiring a lawyer. Rita said it wasn’t required though she recommended I have someone review my forms because laws can vary by state. I easily found and completed most of the forms online and then found a lawyer. She charged a nominal fee to review, witness and notarize my documents to be sure they satisfy legal requirements. It wasn’t nearly as complicated as I’d feared!
Once my legal forms were done, Rita reminded me to copy and store them in a secure place, and that talking to Chris and Sandra about them was really important.
I am very encouraged by my progress. Once piece remains, which I know won’t be easy: How do I pay for all of my End-of-Life decisions now that I’m retired?
Visit: www.passare.com next week to learn how Maya tackles financial issues and planning for her End-of-Life costs.