So much progress has been made in healthcare and medical industry that now people live longer and longer. But living longer is not the same as living better. As Peter Saul points out in this TED talk, it is more important now to make those life-end decisions so our opinions matter when, in those last months or days, we can no longer make them for ourselves. By making these decisions, we are defining, for ourselves and others, what meaningful life represents to us and letting those around us know how we feel emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
Over year ago, I heard Bill Bradley’s speech at the Desert Town Hall in Indian Wells and among many interesting things he mentioned that night, one fact stayed with me. He said, states would save between $35-$65K/per person if everyone would make some of these life-end decisions ahead of time specifically, by creating a Living Will and Advance Health Care Directive.
If you currently do not have these documents in place, I strongly encourage you to consider them. The following Healthcare documents designate your wishes for the end of life procedures (think of the Terri Schiavo case). Also, these designate who gets your healthcare documents, or who can make health decisions for you. These documents include:
- CA Advance Healthcare (Healthcare Power of Attorney)
- Living Will
In addition to these directives, you may also consider other essential legal documents listed below:
· Power of Attorney: In case of your incapacity, you can assign someone to act on your behalf for your financial or other accounts. This document can authorize someone you trust to pay your bills, take care of your utilities and any other financial affairs.
· Will and/or Trust: In case something happens to you, a Will or Trust designates who will be an executor or trustee of the estate, and how your assets are distributed. Talk to your attorney to find out whether a Will or Trust best suits your needs. I am a big proponent of a Trust, as it avoids probate (read more about this topic here). A Trust should also include a Pour-Over-Will, and all of the other documents mentioned above. It is best to discuss your personal situation with a trusted and reliable attorney.
· Guardian Instructions: If you are the parent of a child under 18 years old, creating guardian instructions is very important. This ensures people you trust to take care of your child in case something happens to you. You can also include specific instructions about your views on education, religion or any other matters, such as medical conditions or food allergies.
It is often tough to think about these decisions, but I encourage you to do so. As Peter Saul points out, making these decisions shows that you matter, that your life matters.