Summer is finally here! And, though you may think it strange, summer time gatherings of family and friends can be the ideal time to talk about advance health care directives (e.g., health care proxies and living wills) and financial powers of attorney. Initiating a discussion in the relaxed setting of a backyard barbeque or at the beach can be extremely productive without being threating or uncomfortable. Keep the subject light and focused on everyone, not just on the older members of the group who might otherwise find it difficult to discuss the subject.
Here is a suggestion on how to open up the discussion:
- You might ask if everyone knows that having a health care proxy, living will and power of attorney are as important to an eighteen year old as they are to an eighty year old, and if they are aware that at 18 years old, a child’s school and medical records are not accessible to a parent without permission from the child.
- Then you might ask if they know if the legal paper work is in place in the event the 18 year old cannot manage financial or health care matters without parental help.
- Finally, turn the conversation to the adults in the room and ask them if they have executed health care proxy, living wills, and durable powers of attorney, and if they have, ask them if they have reviewed the executed documents recently to make sure they are up to date.
It is my guess that you will find very few of your friends, family, or their college-age children have valid health care proxies, living wills, or durable financial powers of attorney in place. I don’t advise going deeper into a discussion about whom to appoint as one’s health care proxy or financial power of attorney at this time. But, you might challenge those gathered to complete their health care proxy, living will and power of attorney before you meet again.
If you accomplish this much, you can be satisfied that you raised awareness of this important topic and then I suggest that you celebrate your success by drinking a toast to everyone’s good health and pat yourself on the back for opening the door to further discussions.
Weiss Law Group
Contributors: Mira Weiss, Esq. and Emily Joseph, Esq.