July 22, 2020, 12:13 p.m.
We may find it difficult to discuss death and end-of-life planning with parents and vulnerable family members, but they often want to share their thoughts and explain what to include in a will. Talking about end-of-life care, a funeral, and who might want to benefit from it after death doesn’t have to be pathological, and open discussion can often calm people’s minds.
The next time a relative tries to start a conversation about their end of life plans, try to listen because understanding what they want is good and it is a great relief to know that at worst, you are right do for him.
Discuss a will
If your parent or other family member asked you to be an executor for them, make sure they have an up-to-date will that is properly signed and legally binding. You must have been named earlier in the will if you are to act as the executor. While there are many DIY will packages out there, there is potential for misunderstanding and error. Hence, it is often advisable to have a will made through attorneys – this is usually quite affordable and sometimes free if you are making a charitable donation. In the event of death, there are a number of accounts that you need to access. So make sure you know where to find account details and records, and also know passwords for digital bank, utility, and insurance accounts.
Permanent power of attorney
Sometimes a family member also wants you to have permanent authority over their affairs if they become seriously ill or unable to work before death. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint individuals (called “attorneys”) to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of attorney, one for health and social decisions and one for property and financial decisions. However, you can appoint one person for both duties. You can only do an LPA if you are over 18 and have the mental capacity to make your own decisions. A permanent power of attorney can be organized online via the Office of Guardian.
Living will (extended decisions) and extended statements
It is also worth asking whether your loved one has a living will or a preliminary declaration. “A prior declaration” gives someone the opportunity to explain what kind of medical treatment they might want if they are hospitalized with serious medical problems and are unconscious or incapable.
Typically, you would ask a doctor to sign an “extended statement” and the person who made it. However, this may not be possible at this time if doctor’s offices tell people not to enter unless necessary. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical staff must consider an “extended statement” when deciding on treatment. However, they can override a statement if they believe it is not in the person’s best interests to do so. A preliminary declaration should not be confused with a preliminary decision or a living willwhich is legally binding and specifically relates to whether someone wants life sustaining treatment – a preliminary decision must be signed and witnessed to be valid. You can request a copy of someone’s pre-declaration or will to live if they have one. However, it is also a good idea to ask your family member to keep a copy in the refrigerator with medication, as this is often the first place ambulances and medical staff look for information on a patient.
Discussing what someone might want to do for their funeral can be a remarkably uplifting experience. Scheduling music, flowers, readings, etc., and knowing if someone wants to be buried or cremated is often comforting and can prevent family disputes later. People will often make funeral plans to fund these arrangements so you need to know whether or not one is in place.
It is worth finding out if your parents or family members would like to donate their organs to someone after they die and if they have registered their details on the NHS organ donation website.
Organ donation can be a tremendous opportunity to help someone else’s family at a very difficult time for your own family and to achieve mutually beneficial benefits.
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