Family Discussions

Ken and I have been working on paperwork for in case of situations.  We have two power of attorneys done.  We’re going to work on the other two documents I posted about previously. 

It was interesting to hear what my daughters had to say about the legal documents.  It is always a touche topic when you are talking about who will be in charge of what.  Certainly there is no indicators of favoritism or even trust. 

I trust all of my daughters to do the right thing.  I trust them all to manage our wishes the way we would want.  The problem is, it is a burden.  I’m reading these documents.  In case I’m in a vegatative state what happens. 

One would hope that if I’m in that state my daughters are going to be emotionally upset so making difficult decisions like not hooking me up to tubes to sustain life would be difficult.  We tends to want to cling to people we love, not letting them move forward or move on.  How do you look at the loved one in the bed and not want to do everything possible to save them? 

This is why these documents are so important.  Here are my wishes is basically what the documents are saying.  Here are my wishes and you have a legal obligation to follow them. 

That means if my daughters are emotionally distraught when I’m laying in this hypothetical vegatative state, they don’t have to think.  They just have to follow directions.  It isn’t that simple but it makes it easier – I hope. 

I know some people will read this and be uncomfortable with the topic.  We all are going to die eventually. Isn’t it better to go into that time prepared and having things in order so your family is prepared and doesn’t have to make decisions that are difficult. 

A friend of mine died years ago.  It was sudden and tragic.  I remember speaking with her mother about the disposition of her body.  Did she want to be buried or cremated?  Her mother wasn’t sure what her daughter wanted and as her best friend she wanted to know what I thought.  I don’t know that I was in any better state than her mother was but we worked through it.  I remember feeling more upset because I didn’t know and I wanted to make sure my friend was honored. 

That’s why the paper work is important.  That’s why it’s important for the discussions to happen. 

Necessary Documents

With my mother’s recent hospital stay, I’ve been digging into what legal documents you should have in place just because.  This is an uncomfortable topic because it involves conversations about what happens if you are incapacitated or dead.

First I’m not a lawyer so this isn’t legal advice.  This is me telling you – this is what I’ve learned.

The one most people know about is the will.  You should have your will updated regularly.  This helps to ensure that your stuff gets distributed the way you want it to.  Now anyone can contest a will but hopefully your heirs will respect your wishes.

There are two power of attorney documents you should consider having as well.  The first is for health care.  It is simply who will make decisions about your health care if you can’t.  The other one is for your finances.  This is the person you want taking care of your money when you’re incapacitated.

A living will sounds like a regular will but it isn’t.  It is a document that states what happens if you are in a vegetative state.  Again this is so your wishes are followed when you can’t say what your wishes are.

For Wisconsin there is also a document about the disposition of your body.  Obviously, you’re dead so this is telling people what you want to happen to your body once you’re gone.  

Like most other people I am guilty of not having these in place.  I have a will but it is thirty years old, two of my daughters weren’t even born when Ken and I had them made up.  The other documents don’t exist yet.

I will be rectifying this.  I’m going to sit down with Ken and we are going to create these documents.  It won’t be hard because all I have to do is go to google and type in power of attorney wisconsin and all sorts of things come up.  Mostly though I’m looking for the ones the government gives out for free.  I get the four (not the will) from there.  The other thing I’m going to do is find our current wills and use that format to create new wills.

After we get them all done, we just need signatures, notary (I think) and witnesses.  But we won’t be done yet.  The final step is to distribute all of the documents to our daughters.  This way they know what we want and have a copy so they can be responsible and not have to make the tough decisions when they are upset because we have croaked.  At least I hope they are upset – maybe not – depends on how much we’ve annoyed them… (That’s humor – sick and demented but still humor).

It is hard to talk about this stuff for a lot of people because no one wants to talk about death and ultimate this is a conversation about death.  However, in order to make sure you have your wishes followed this is necessary.