Sometimes you may realize that your relatives have different beliefs than you or that they are not reliable. This may lead to a legitimate worry that they will bury you when you want cremation, or extend your life when you have a DNR. If you have concerns that your relatives will not follow your end-of-life wishes, there are a few concrete steps you can take.
1. Advance Health Care Directive
In California, you can sign a document called an advance health care directive. It includes both a living will and a health care power of attorney. This useful document allows you to specify exactly what you end-of-life wishes are. If you prefer no life-extending measures in the hospital, or you want to donate your body to science, you can specify it in an advance directive.
In addition, you can pick who will help carry out your wishes. Maybe you have a trusted friend who you think will follow your wishes better than your relatives. Make that friend your agent in the advance directive. If you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself, your friend can show the doctors your advance directive and then make decisions for you.
2. Instructions to Your Doctors
In addition to signing an advance directive, you can allow someone besides your relatives to have access to your medical records and attend medical appointments. Talk to your doctor about signing a HIPAA authorization for the trusted person you choose to have access. Also, you can instruct your doctors’ office and the hospital or care facility not to allow specific people to visit you or talk to your doctors. For example, if you are still married to someone but do not want him or her to make medical decisions for you, inform your doctors.
3. Choosing a Trustee and an Executor
If you believe that your relatives cannot be trusted to carry out your wishes, do not pick them to be your trustee or executor. Instead, select longtime friends or professionals. You may want to consider having a local attorney or investment planner run your trust or administer your estate. This may give you more peace of mind and security in your estate plan.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.