How to talk about end-of-life arrangements with aging loved ones

By Karen Garcia

Amy Pickard wants you to talk about death. Specially, she wants you to make your healthcare planning and end-of-life arrangements known to your loved ones.

She knows that talking about death is going to make most people squirm. But the Southern Californian, who runs the end-of-life consulting company Good to Go!, says an awkward but respectful conversation now lessens the grief of a loss when the inevitable happens and allows people to honor a deceased loved one’s wishes.

“I tell adult children to tell their parents, ‘Hey, I’m getting organized with all my advance planning, and I just realized that if I don’t know what I want, you guys certainly wouldn’t know,’” she said. “‘And then I thought if something happens to you guys, I wouldn’t have a clue what to do, and that terrifies me.’”

For some people, it comes from a fear of dying, said author Cameron Huddleston. She said having to talk about end-of-life arrangements feels like being forced to think about mortality.

“However, avoiding the subject doesn’t mean you can avoid the inevitable,” she said. “It just means that you probably won’t have a plan for your death, and you’ll make things harder for those you leave behind.”

Why we need the death talk

Pickard and other advocates for end-of-life planning find that sharing their personal experiences helps normalize the conversation. Pickard shares with clients her experience of grieving the loss of her mother, who died unexpectedly at age 67.

“So I’m in the wilderness of grief, and at the same time I had to suddenly be an accountant, a florist, a detective, a travel agent, an estate appraiser and just all these things. And I was none of those things,” she said.

Her mom didn’t leave any instructions or wishes. Pickard described the work of wrapping up her mother’s life as overwhelming emotional labor.

In the midst of grieving a parent’s death, you might also have to plan the memorial, end monthly magazine subscriptions and notify others of their death. It’s not easy to juggle these tasks or final wishes if you don’t know what someone wants or where their information is stored.

That’s compounding grief with tasks that are frustrating in the best of times. To avoid it, you’ll have to have a difficult conversation that a parent might not be ready for. Asking if your parent would prefer to be buried or cremated (or something else entirely) could elicit responses like “I’m not that old” or “Why, are you trying to get rid of me?” No, you aren’t, but you can’t be their advocate without knowing what they want.

“It’s OK to acknowledge that the topic is uncomfortable, but you could say that you would be even more uncomfortable making arrangements for them without their input,” Huddleston said.

What do you do when someone dies?

Because we find death so hard to talk about, there are probably lots of things people wonder but don’t know. We have answers.

Not having a parent’s healthcare wishes and end-of-life instructions could leave a child wondering whether they made the right decisions.

It can also be an overwhelming experience to sort through a person’s belongings for information.

When Pickard’s mother died, she had no directions to follow. The minute she arrived at her mother’s condo in Chicago to cancel the utility bills and take care of other death duties, Pickard realized that she didn’t know the name of the electric company that kept the lights on.

“I would have given anything to talk to my mom again,” she said. “Not to tell her I loved her, but to get her Wi-Fi password.”

At the end of the day, having this information at the ready allows people to focus on love, Pickard said — how much that person was loved and how much people loved them.

This future peace of mind extends to the person who made their end-of-life wishes known. Pickard says these instructions aren’t just mundane bill canceling. For an adult child, it can be the last time a mother, father or guardian takes care of them.

Huddleston added, “Think of letting your family know what your final wishes are as a gift — your final gift to them. You’ll make it easier for them during a difficult time by having a detailed plan that they can follow.”

Starting the conversation

There isn’t one right way to approach this conversation. It really depends on whom you are talking with.

If you know your person doesn’t like to be taken by surprise, give them a heads up, said Kate DeBartolo of the Conversation Project, an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. For example, DeBartolo said, if you’re planning a two-week visit with your parent, let them know beforehand that this topic is on your mind and that you would like to talk about it with them.

This gives the person the opportunity to think about what they want if they haven’t already.

You can sit down and talk about it over coffee or sprinkle it into everyday conversation when it feels natural.

If you’re watching a TV show or movie that depicts a funeral, that could prompt the conversation. You could say, “That made me realize I’m not sure of what you would want in that situation” or “Do you agree with the decision that character made for their parent?” DeBartolo said.

It could be a one-on-one conversation or it could be done with several people.

“I heard a woman who said she made desserts for her family at Thanksgiving and she held them all hostage and said, ‘No pumpkin pie until you tell me how you want to die,’” DeBartolo said. “And everybody would go around the table and talk about it, and that worked for her family.”

Having the conversation

Before you broach the subject, DeBartolo wants you to keep in mind the following:

  • Your questions won’t be solved with one conversation. The more you discuss it, the easier it will be for someone to talk about and share their thoughts.
  • Don’t wait until the end of someone’s life to talk about their wishes. There’s a misconception that this conversation should happen with older adults. DeBartolo argues that everyone over 18 should get their arrangements in order or at least start talking about it. Keep in mind that the information will need to be updated whenever you move, get married, divorced or have a child.
  • Don’t start the conversation with financial questions. You might give a person the wrong impression — that you only care about their money.
  • Be an active listener. The person you’re talking with might not give you a straight answer. DeBartolo said a grandmother might say that she wants “home” to be a part of her end-of-life care. Ensuring that Grandmother is at home might not be feasible, but “home” could mean having home-cooked meals, living in a facility that allows her cat or having personal effects with her.

Lastly, when you’re ready to reach out to someone, remember to frame the conversation with compassion. This doesn’t have to be a painful talk, DeBartolo said. It can be loving, a time to share memories.
In the conversation, Huddleston said, find out the following information at the very least:

  • How the person wants their remains handled. If burial is their choice, ask if a plot has been purchased or where they would prefer to be buried.
  • What type of memorial service they want, including music choices and who will speak.
  • The names and contact information of the people they would like to be notified of their death.
  • Information for the obituary.
  • The location of wills, trusts and any life insurance policy.
  • A list of assets and accounts, including things like the names of their utility companies — and their computer login and Wi-Fi information.
  • Any specific instructions for how they want heirs to handle their inheritance.
  • Arrangements for children or pets.

Some people will never want to talk out loud about this, and DeBartolo said that’s OK too. Let them know you’re open to hearing how they’d like the end of their life handled in any way they feel comfortable communicating it. If they can send you an email or a text of a few instructions or tell you where their important documents are, that can be enough.


The Conversation Project has a free starter guide and focuses on end-of-life healthcare.

Good to Go! sells a “departure file” and offers consulting services in a private or group setting. The latter is called “Good to Go! Parties,” an upbeat gathering to talk, eat, drink and fill out the departure files.

CaringInfo, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, has guides and resources to help clarify the difference between hospice and palliative care or what you need to create an advance directive.

International End-of-Life Doula Assn. has a directory of doulas who can assist with advanced-care planning.

Death Cafes, in-person or online, are group-directed discussions of death with no agenda, objective or theme. It’s a discussion group and not grief support or counseling.

The California Office of the Attorney General has an end-of-life care checklist, resources including Medicare information, an advance healthcare directive checklist and more.

Complete Article HERE!

Less Than Half of U.S. Adults Have Wills or Advance Healthcare Directives

By Laurnie Wilson

Death or medical emergencies are never topics that are easy to address. However, a last will or testament can make a difference in the way that one experiences aging, as well as how families grieve in the aftermath of a deceased loved one. Gallup findings from 2021 show that less than half of U.S. adults had a will at the time. Where do Americans stand today on last wills, as well as living wills and advance healthcare directives?

Around 4-in-10 Have Last Wills, More Are Planning On It

New CivicScience data show that the percentage of U.S. adults with wills is still less than half – 38% of Americans currently have a last will and testament detailing property and asset rights after death. However, half of respondents plan to create one in their lifetimes, and 22% plan to make one in the next 12 months. If that were to happen, over 50% of Americans would then have a will by this time next year.

As it turns out, last wills are most common among:

  • Adults aged 65+: 61% have a will, compared to 46% of those aged 55-64; 35% of those aged 35-54; and 22% of those aged 18-34.
  • Homeowners: 49% have a will, compared to 23% of renters.
  • High-income earners: the higher the annual household income, the more likely someone is to have a will.

Age 65 and up appears to be when most Americans are likely to create a will for their financial assets. Less than half of adults under age 65 currently have a will, but between 20-25% plan on creating one in the next 12 months. To no one’s surprise, adults aged 18-34 are the most likely to not plan on making a will (16%), although 62% foresee creating one at some point in the future.

Additionally, attorneys are the most popular option when it comes to the process of preparing a will. More than half of U.S. adults said they used an attorney to prepare their will, while 17% used an online site such as LegalZoom or Free Will, and 34% either wrote their own will or used other means (n=2,202). However, adults aged 34 and younger showed a high rate of using online sites (28%) compared to an attorney (36%). Legal document preparation websites and digital services are likely to become increasingly popular over the traditional use of an attorney as the U.S. population grows older.

Living Wills Are Alive and Well

A living will allows individuals to state their healthcare preferences in the case that they are unable to communicate them at a future date. More than a third of Americans report having this type of advance medical directive (34%), slightly lower than the percentage of those with last wills. Over a quarter (26%) say they plan on creating a living will in the near future.

The data suggest that knowledge of this type of advance medical directive is surprisingly high, as just 7% of adults say they are unfamiliar with a living will and 47% are planning to create one at some point in life. Adults aged 65+ are once again the most likely to already possess a living will, but adults across the board demonstrate a high interest in creating one, including 52% of adults aged 18-34.

Interestingly, 24% of Americans have either a designated financial or healthcare power of attorney, and an additional 20% say they have both (n=3,927).

Americans Are Planning for Their Futures

Of course, legal documents aren’t the only aids Americans may turn to in order to ease the burden of their passing. For some, life insurance answers the question of how to ensure your family is prepared in the event of your death.

As of 2023, 57% of U.S. adults say they have a life insurance policy, the same percentage as in 2022. And as the data show, those who have life insurance are highly likely to have a last will or to be planning to create one if they haven’t already. That said, a significant portion of people without a life insurance policy and not intending to secure one currently have a last will (49%), but they are also the least interested in creating one in the future.

Finally, data show those who have a will or plan to create one are more optimistic about the future than those who never plan to create one. So while some may view end-of-life preparation as a sign of pessimism, perhaps sentiments are changing, as many Americans plan to take steps for the future.

Complete Article HERE!

The ‘death checklist’

— Choosing your agents

OK, maybe the ‘life checklist’ sounds better. Either way, this starts a whole series of reports to get us ready for the end.

By Jason Wheeler

Show of hands: Who is ready to die? OK, that certainly doesn’t sound appealing.

So, as we do a whole series of reports about preparing for future eventualities, we’ll change the original idea from ‘The Death Checklist’ to ‘The Life Checklist’.

That makes sense anyway because preparing your finances for after you die is a part of life. And it’s a critical part for the people you leave behind.

Let’s start with the care you get that may keep you from dying right now.

Texas has long led the nation in the number of people who are uninsured. It’s a good idea to have health insurance in some form. Because if things go really wrong for you health-wise, it gets costly fast. The average hospital bill in Texas went up 38% from 2016 to 2020. The costs can be an onerous burden even if you are covered. But especially if you are not, those bills can quickly diminish the assets you might have been planning to leave behind to loved ones.

Choosing someone to make your health care decisions if you cannot

Regardless of your insurance situation, if you end up needing treatment, it may help you and those who care about you to designate someone now to be your agent with a medical power of attorney.

Some recommendations say if you are married you should fill out one of these forms too, even if the agent you name is your spouse.

In addition to filling out the form, you discuss your medical wishes with your designated medical power of attorney in case something happens to you, and you are unable or incompetent anymore to make your medical wishes known to healthcare providers.

Make sure the person you designate is someone you trust…and that it is someone who makes good decisions under pressure (and may be able to withstand pressure from other family members who might want something for you that goes against your wishes).

In this document you can limit the decisions your agent can make, you can allow it to go on indefinitely or put an expiration date on it, and you can choose alternate agents in case your agent dies or is incapacitated with you. You can also subsequently revoke this document and make a new one if you choose.

Choosing someone to handle your financial affairs if you cannot

If you want to designate the same person or another person to also handle your financial affairs, and make those decisions when you cannot, that’s going to require another document.

Whoever you select to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to, you want to make sure you really trust the person.

If you select this person to have what is called a durable power of attorney, they can make decisions about a lot of different things involving your money. On the form, you can initial the things they can do regarding your money, your possessions, your real estate, investments, social security, retirement, and other things…even your digital assets and content of electronic communications.

You can also limit or extend their powers. And you get to decide when the durable power of attorney begins.

You can also opt for co-agents and decide if they work together or work independently on your behalf. This would be in effect until your death. But you can revoke it, too.

If that seems like too much there are also limited powers of attorney for things like selling an automobile or dealing with your taxes.

You can also read more about powers of attorney here and here.

Complete Article HERE!

5 key things to know when you create a will and make other end-of-life plans

By Sarah O’Brien

  • Planning for who makes decisions and who gets what when you die is “a gift” for your family, says a financial advisor.
  • While many people think estate planning is only for the wealthy, experts say that’s not the case.
  • Here are some key things to think about when you give thought to your own end-of-life plans.

Contemplating your own death may not be on the list of things you’re eager to do.

Yet for your family or other loved ones who would find themselves trying to sort out your affairs while also dealing with the emotional fallout from losing you, your having a so-called estate plan is important, experts say. And this is the case whether you are wealthy or not.

“When you get your things in order, it’s a gift you’re giving your family,” said certified financial planner Lisa Kirchenbauer, founder and president of Omega Wealth Management in Arlington, Virginia.

In simple terms, your estate plan spells out who you want making decisions and who will inherit what you own. “Estate” simply refers to possessions and other assets.

Experts say most estate plans don’t need to be complicated. But to make sure your wishes are carried out, they do need to be done correctly — which may make it worth consulting with a local attorney who specializes in estate planning.

Here are five key things to know if you start thinking about how you’d craft an estate plan.

1. A will may not cover all your bases

A will is a basic part of an estate plan. It lets you identify who you want to receive certain property and allows you to name a guardian for dependent children. If you don’t have a will in place when you die, the courts may decide who gets what or who is appointed guardian.

However, some assets pass outside of the will, including retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts, as well as life insurance policies and annuities. This means the beneficiaries listed on those accounts supersede any instructions in your will.

“If your ex-spouse is listed on the beneficiary designation, your ex-spouse will get the money regardless of what your will says,” said CFP Stephen Maggard, an advisor with Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, South Carolina.

Be aware that many 401(k) plans require your current spouse to be the beneficiary unless they legally agree otherwise.

Regular bank accounts, too, can have beneficiaries listed on a payable-on-death form, which your bank can supply. Same goes for brokerage accounts.

If no beneficiary is listed on these various accounts or the named person has already died (and there is no contingent beneficiary listed), the assets automatically go into probate.

That’s the process by which all of your debt is paid off and the remaining assets that are subject to probate — which includes those that pass through the will — are distributed to heirs. This can last several months to a year or more, depending on state laws and the complexity of your estate.

2. You’ll need to carefully pick your will’s executor, other key roles

When you create a will, you name an executor to carry out your wishes and handle your estate. It can be a big job.

Things such as liquidating or closing accounts, ensuring your assets go to the proper beneficiaries, paying any debts not discharged (i.e., taxes owed) and even selling your home could be among the duties overseen by the executor.

This means that you need to make sure whoever you name is up for the job — and that they are amenable to taking it on.

Additionally, an estate plan should include other end-of-life documents, including a living will. This outlines the health care you want and don’t want if you become unable to communicate those desires yourself.

You also can assign powers of attorney to trusted individuals so they can make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated at some point. Often, the person who is given this responsibility for decisions related to your health care is different from whom you would name to handle your financial affairs.

Just be sure to name alternatives.

“It’s super important to have backup people in all roles in the estate plan … in case someone cannot serve,” said CFP Jennifer Bush, a financial planner with MainStreet Financial Planning in San Jose, California.

3. Some assets get a ‘step-up in basis’

If you have assets such as stocks, bonds or real estate (i.e., a house) and are considering gifting them to children or other heirs while you’re alive, it might make more sense to wait.

When these assets are sold, any increase from the so-called cost basis (the value when the asset was acquired) and the sale price is subject to capital gains taxes.

However, upon your death, your heirs who inherit those assets get a “step-up in basis.” In other words, the market value of the asset at your death becomes the cost basis for the heir — which generally means any appreciation prior to that is untaxed. And when the heir sells the asset, any gains (or losses) are based on the new cost basis.

On the other hand, if you were to gift such appreciated assets to heirs before your death, they’d assume your original cost basis — which could translate into an outsized tax bill when the assets are sold.

“We find ourselves often recommending that clients give adult children cash instead,” Maggard said.

4. You may want to consider setting up a trust

If you want your kids to receive money but don’t want to give a young adult — or one prone to poor money management or other concerning behaviors — unfettered access to a sudden windfall, you can consider creating a trust to be the beneficiary of a particular asset.

A trust holds assets on behalf of your beneficiary or beneficiaries, and is a legal entity dictated by the documents creating it.

If you go that route, the assets are left to the trust instead of directly to your heirs. They can only receive money according to how (or when) you’ve stipulated in the trust documents.

5. You’ll need to revisit your estate plan

Anytime you have a major life change — such as birth of a child or divorce — it’s important to review your estate plan.

You’ll want to confirm that your named executor (or trustee, if you set up a trust) is still an appropriate choice. Additionally, check all listed beneficiaries on your financial accounts to make sure no updates are needed.

Additionally, If you move to a new state, be sure to check whether you need to update any part of your plan so it follows that state’s laws.

Complete Article HERE!

End-of-life planning is a blessing

By John Lurain

In my career as a physician, I witnessed, firsthand, both good and bad end-of-life decision-making by patients and their families. Those who had prepared for the inevitability of death by advance planning and had hope for their life’s meaning beyond the pain and distress of death were able to better accept and handle the realities of dying.

On the other hand, the dying process was often chaotic and resulted in prolonged suffering for those who had not embraced the joy of their lives and had not undertaken discussions or steps to ensure their dying wishes would be carried out.

When my wife, Nell, was diagnosed with incurable, advanced cancer at age 74 in 2021, we were blessed that we had discussed our dying wishes with each other and our daughters and had made plans for the transition to end-of-life well before Nell’s illness. Nell had also found a spiritual peace and meaning in her life through her family, her career as a scientist, and as a teacher, which provided comfort in her final days.

Steps we took to facilitate end-of-life decisions:

1) Moving into an apartment after our retirement, which made it much easier to care for Nell and avoided the hassle of disposing of our house after her death

2) Setting up estate-planning documents, including a healthcare power of attorney if we were unable to serve as our own advocates

3) Discussing with family our priorities for quality of life

As a result of these advance planning measures, our entire family was in agreement about Nell’s end-of-life care. We engaged hospice and home care services early, allowing us to provide comfort care in our apartment without need for hospitalization. Nell passed away peacefully on Aug. 31, 2021. I miss her every day, but I receive solace knowing that we provided Nell with the type of dying experience she wished.

Compassion & Choices, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to end-of-life choices, provides free, comprehensive planning tools available online at: I encourage everyone to take advantage of this valuable resource.

Complete Article HERE!

6 joyful steps for end-of-life planning

— It isn’t just about wills and funerals — it is a reflection of your values, your goals for healthy aging, and the hopes and dreams you have for those you love


The new year is a time of fresh starts and beginnings. But it’s also a good time to plan for the end.

Planning for a health crisis and the end of life doesn’t have to be dreary. There is a lot of joy in organizing your final days, knowing that by being prepared, your final act will be one of guidance and support for your family members and other loved ones. End-of-life planning isn’t just about wills and funerals — it’s also a reflection of your values, your goals for healthy aging, and the hopes and dreams you have for those you love.

From experience, I can tell you that death is complicated for those left behind. Advanced health directives are essential — and should be created when you are healthy, not from a hospital bed. Funeral arrangements are costly, and the details — from the type of service to your final resting place (coffin or urn? Burial plot or cremation?) — are dizzying. Your credit cards, bank accounts, utility bills, cellphone accounts and internet passwords can become a huge burden for those who survive you, if you haven’t planned ahead.

Here’s a simple checklist to help you get started.

  1. Create a crisis notebook: For me, choosing a binder where I could gather all my planning documents is what finally got me started. You will need to create additional hard and digital copies once you’ve made some progress. This AARP worksheet will get you started on compiling all the documents — medical, legal, financial and end-of-life — you need. It will take some time, but the worksheet is a great way to keep track of what you have left to do.
  2. Start by writing your advance directive: Go to the AARP website to find the right forms for your state. This step is the one that most benefits you directly and will help your family make medical decisions on your behalf. The website Five Wishes is also a popular resource, with easy-to-follow instructions for creating an advanced directive.
  3. Write a will: Gallup reports that less than half of Americans have a will. Without a will, the laws of the state will decide how your assets are distributed. Services such as Nolo, LegalZoom or Quicken Willmaker can help for a fee.
  4. Make a digital estate plan: This guide from AARP will help you manage utility accounts, credit cards and social media passwords.
  5. Plan your goodbye party: Having attended several funerals, I don’t want my survivors to incur the expense or burden of planning one. And I actually enjoyed researching the options and making goodbye plans for myself with a focus on a greener ending to my life than a traditional funeral and burial. I’ve picked a lovely black birch tree in the Berkshires through Better Place Forests to mark my final resting place.
  6. Add a last letter: VJ Periyakoil, a physician who specializes in geriatrics and palliative care at the Stanford University Medical Center, started the Stanford Letter Project, to give people the tools they need to write to their doctor, friends or family. You’ll find the template and sample letters at

Complete Article HERE!

End-of-Life Issues and Support for LGBTQ+

LGBTQ+ people can face unique challenges at the end of their lives. The article discusses some of the struggles they face and why they face them. Advance directives are the best way for LGBTQ+ individuals to make their end-of-life wishes known and to counteract discrimination.


  • Individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ statistically encounter discrimination and this does not stop when they face death and dying.
  • Biased blood relatives and medical personnel can be sources of end-of-life challenges for LGBTQ+ community members.
  • Having an advance directive may assist in ensuring a more dignified and respected dying process.

The end of life is a profoundly intimate time for the dying person and their loved ones. The dying process can strongly illicit emotions related to fear of the unknown and anticipatory grief. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and non-binary (LGBTQ+) individuals, the challenges can multiply.

What are some possible concerns?

When a dying person is not cisgender (identifying with the gender they were assigned at birth) or heterosexual, the end of life may become complex.

For example, family members who previously rejected their now-terminal LGBTQ+ relative may wish to visit to say their goodbyes. They may still hold biases against the sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) of the dying relative. Relationships that are already strained can add undue burden on the dying one and their close caregivers.

Family dysfunctions are not the only issue facing terminal LGBTQ+ folks. They can routinely experience discrimination from their palliative and hospice care providers. The results can be devastating.

Culturally insensitive attitudes held by medical professionals can translate into micro-aggressions, withheld care, or abuse. Even people in legal same-sex marriages that have codified protections at the bedside are sometimes met with contempt.

The result could be that the non-conforming person may be denied the care, dignity, and support at the end of life every human wants.

Further difficulties for transgender individuals

Systemic and social prejudices that harm the transgender community persist and can follow them to the end of life. Again, the withdrawn relative who has not yet embraced the SOGI of their dying family member may arrive at the bedside, still deadnaming (using their birth name and not their chosen one), perpetuating an environment of perceived discord.

Medical workers are sometimes responsible for inequitable care provision when faced with patients and their bedside support system who are not cisgender or don’t fit a heteronormative presentation. Studies that contain evidence of this type of discrimination are now surfacing.

A supportive solution – advance directives

Advance directive creation acts as a vital process for formally stating exactly what a person envisions for their end of life. The term ‘advance directive’ is an umbrella term used for a group of formal documents that include a living will, a document naming one or more health care proxies, and organ/tissue donation documents (if so desired). It is not to be confused with a legal, financial will established with an attorney.

The living will

A living will spell out the detailed choices regarding what medical treatments a person would and would not want at the end of life. It communicates pre-planned decisions to all medical practitioners based on personal values. Also, a living will is what the chosen healthcare proxy will use as a guide in advocating for the dying LGBTQ+ person when they can no longer speak for themselves.

Each state has its own version. However, they all ask the same basic questions regarding medical procedures and interventions typical at the end of life. It guides medical providers in knowing whether or not to administer artificial hydration and nutrition as well as life-sustaining interventions such as a breathing machine or CPR.

Also, there is always space provided on the documents for writing personal statements and unique information to establish autonomy further. These addendums can be the key to receiving more personalized and respectful medical care. Appropriate pronouns, who one wants at the bedside, chosen name use, and more can be highlighted here.

What is a health care proxy?

A proxy is a person carefully chosen ahead of time to be the voice at the bedside when an actively dying person cannot express their wishes. This term is also known as a health care agent, patient advocate, medical power of attorney, or medical proxy (state-dependent). The proxy cannot override medical decisions if a person is conscious and competent at the time decisions are required.

It is recommended that more than one healthcare proxy be named in the advance directive. If one proxy is unavailable at a crucial time, having another designee who can step in can provide assurance.

Additional insights

Advance directives can be downloaded from the internet for free in every state. It may need to be notarized in addition to the necessary witness signatures. An individual’s primary care provider and all proxies must have a copy of the completed and signed documents. Providers can answer any questions to help make these personal medical decisions.

Advance directives are not only for those with a known terminal diagnosis. There is also the scenario of a sudden, catastrophic event that might lead to a critical care unit to consider. This now involves the forethought of younger, healthier individuals as well.

What may happen if no advance directive is available?

When a person is instantly unconscious and possibly dying related to an accident, essential decisions will need to be made immediately. Without a stated proxy, the closest blood relative will be legally elected as “next of kin” to make those choices. If that mother or father, sister or brother, is historically at odds with their dying LGBTQ+ family member, the situation has the potential for further disaster.

With an advance directive in place, wishes are already determined, and the supportive ally in the proxy role can guide the care desired and advocate for respectful treatment at the bedside. Having an advance directive may also prevent the need for guardianship imposed through the state probate court.

Ultimately, if no advance decisions are in writing, the stress of not knowing rests on those that care.

Every person over the age of 18 is encouraged to have advance directives in place, whether legally married, cohabitating, or single. They can provide additional protection of dignity the LGBTQ+ community asks for when it’s needed most. And, until more education is required for medical professionals in providing more culturally sensitive care, advance directives are another ally to add to the circle of support for the dying LGBTQ+ person.’

Complete Article HERE!