The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
I was talking with a friend this morning about her dad’s very serious decline in health and his extreme reluctance to acknowledge or talk about it – or to make plans in the event he can no longer make his own decisions, or dies. His longtime spouse, struggling with her own health issues, hasn’t wanted to talk about the worst case scenario either, but has finally admitted, “I can’t do this anymore.” Worried about her own ability to manage her parents’ affairs without their input, my friend is resolved to have this critical discussion with them very soon, a course of action that Gay Joyner, a paralegal with Legal Aid of North Carolina in Rocky Mount recommends in the excellent Rocky Mountain Telegram article, “Duties Before Dying”.
“It puts a lot of burden on the family trying to decide what did they want. They are stuck with a lot of decisions that maybe families haven’t talked about before. Do they want organ donation? Do they want to be put on machines? Even simple things like, do they want to be put on kidney dialysis if they can’t make that decision themselves?” Joyner said.
It’s not a comfortable subject, but we do have a duty to our families to prepare for worst case scenarios, especially to our family members who are likely to manage our affairs if we can’t, including our health care. The article emphasizes the importance of preparing a will, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney and a living will, as well as discussing end-of-life wishes and decisions with the individuals named in the documents.
If you’re avoiding documenting your own final wishes or talking with immediate family members about theirs, don’t put off these conversations any longer. It’s a duty of love.