This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Making sure my relatives have their wishes followed.

Posted By Paul

First of all sorry that I've been out of touch for so long, for the longest time I felt like I was so busy with stuff that I didn't have time to come up with a topic for this blog, but then I realized that a lot of the stuff I was dealing with was COMPLETELY relevant to this blog.

Also, sorry for the lame title of this posting, I couldn't think of anything clever.

Anyway, one of my new year's resolutions was to make sure that I knew my role when it came to my older relatives (parents, aunt, uncles, etc.) and their health directives. In particular I wanted to go to each of my CLOSE older relatives and ask them:

1) Did they have someone designated to make medical decisions on their behalf if they were medically incapaciated.

2) Did they need me to serve in that capacity in any way.

3) If so, then did they have a living well or any other info they could give me to make sure I knew what their wishes were.

It wasn't the easiest conversation to have because it's never fun to talk about these sorts of scenarios. I didn't want it to sound like I was sniffing around for an inheritance so I made sure to focus on HEALTH decisions (since I really have no expectations of inheriting money from anyone).

In some cases I was surprised to discover that my older relatives thought that I meant funeral arrangements, they'd say something like: "Oh, I already have a plot reserved." or something like that.

When I explained that I was more wondering about if they were in a coma or something and needed someone to make medical decisions for them, some of my relatives would just say: "Oh, just do what the doctor says." or "I don't want to be kept alive by machines." and figure that this was sufficient.

In cases like that I had to push my relatives a bit since telling me the info doesn't help if I'm not the person designated to make the decisions, and of course if I AM that person then I want more specific info as to their wishes.

I told them that if they had already designated someone else that was fine (even better than fine since it's not like it's a duty I look forward to), but if not, then I wanted to make it clear that if they wanted me to be that person then I wanted them to fill out a living will (and give me a copy) so that I would be able to follow their wishes if the situation came up. The last thing I want is to get an emergency call where I need to make a medical decision on behalf of a relative and have to guess at what to do or (even more frustrating) to know that they have a living will but it's somewhere in a drawer or safe deposit box where I can't get to it.

Also, with some of my closer relatives (specifically my parents) I also broached the subject of financial matters. For example I'm already a joint account holder on the bank accounts of my parents. I don't do anything with their accounts but it is good to know that if some emergency came up that I could access their accounts. This is especially good for piece of mind since my parents travel. It's good to know that if they were stuck somewhere and needed me to wire money for an emergency that I can just walk into a bank and help them out.

I'm also talking to my parents about setting up power of attorney, but I'm still working out some of those details. I hope to learn more about what I need to do in the near future as my wife and I are going through and getting all of our estate planning setup as well.

If anyone out there has been through this and is willing to share, I would appreciate any suggestions that people have.

1 comment:

Ron Marson said...

Hi Paul,

We have almost completed this process with a close older relative (our 'dear one') going through LegalZoom.com. We filled in the blanks together on line, paid a reasonable fee, and got our documents to notarize and sign. We are in the last stages of 'funding the trust', converting all assets from the NAME of our 'dear one' to a TRUST administered by our 'dear one' as long as she is living. We have also completed a power of attorney. The original documents will be in her possession and those named in these documents with responsibilities will all have copies.

It took a lot of 'psychic effort' to get this far. Now that we are almost done, it is starting to feel really good, simple, and clean