The quality of our decisions
We all know it is almost required to have a Will today and prudent to have an Advanced Directive for Medical Care. These decisions can be some of the most important we make and the most difficult at the same time. Traditionally, we have gone about our life in a bubble of ‘The end will come – just not now, not this week, not this month and certainly not this year’. Many of us just don’t bother to think about it – therefore we can just live on without thoughts of what will be our fate.
This document is many times only considered as a way to make sure our prized possessions go to a specific family member of our choice. We want our spouse, significant other or children to have our financial gain and our accumulations from our lifetime. This is a great way to look at who get’s what, but little is discussed about these decisions being made during an illness resulting in the end of our life. Each and every one of us will die; the question, if a question is needed, is how and when. The most difficult part of a Will is deciding who should receive the job of Executor and what each person will or should receive if anything. These are not easy decisions, as we know someone will get hurt feelings and someone else will be angry. The truth is most of these feelings are part of our grieving process and what may happen due to our decisions. So what we really need to think about is what our decedents really know about our life and what is truly the most cherished and significant gift we can or will give them.
We will come back to the Will in just one minute; the first document for tool, if we may is the Medical Power of Attorney or Durable Medical Power of Attorney (DPOA).
1: This tool is of the most significance to us at this point in time. The person with this power is the one who will make our medical decisions if or when we cannot. To begin with, in society today, chances are astronomical that our death will not be one of momentary death, rather one of a few weeks or months of illness prior to death. During this time we may find it more and more difficult to make decisions, which we have thought through and formed a coherent opinion about prior to this illness. However, with the illness which is weakening us and the many drugs being given to us too help – our thoughts and wishes may not be as clear. This is the reason for a person to help with the decisions.
Thus, this is a person who should be close enough to us to have knowledge of not only our cultural and spiritual belief systems, but have first hand knowledge of our health prior to this current illness and the determination of this current illness. We need someone who is strong; someone who is educated and can grasp the entirety of the situation; someone who will stand up for us even in the face of family, friends and medical experts pelleting them with expertise to prolong our life or allow our body to continue on the course it is now settled too. No matter the decision it is really quite difficult and requires someone who is firm in his or her role. We need a person who can put aside their feelings or beliefs and step into our shoes for this role only. Not for the faint of heart, they will be ask to make decisions regarding medications, medical interventions such as hydration, nourishment and pharmaceutical relief. And should everything go wrong they may be ask to make a decision to discontinue treatment.
2: The Will
Many lawyers will draw up a Will which is to have a letter attached which gives those most precious possessions to each person that ‘we’ feel will find the greatest joy in having. Who will want the china or pictures is usually not the main course, who will get the wedding rings, the broach from Aunt _______, or the prized Miter Saw used by our first born to build ________. Although not financially passed on, these are many times the most important for both the person who is passing and the person who is receiving. The decision is not one to be taken lightly as invariably someone will get his or her feelings hurt, and this is not the outcome desired by the person who has just passed.
However, we can take solace in the knowledge that who gets what or doesn’t get it although angry at the time, will after a few months of grieving very probably come to understand; and no matter we will not be there to try to smooth ruffled feathers. The crux of this is however, whether a person has financial wealth or is homeless with little or nothing, there is always something to leave to those we care about. We may decide to leave the gift of life to our family or friends. Leaving them with the knowledge that they are loved, able to take on whatever is thrown at them and still stand. The greatest gift ever passed on to a person me was not wealth, real property or alike; rather it was my mother’s diary. This little book provided another way for me to get to know her.
Next week; How to prepare for the ultimate gifting, Taking a closer look.