Advanced Directives

February 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm (Death and Dying, When I Die) (, , , , , , , , )

A lot of people ask me about my advanced directives. These are legal documents that allow for someone else to make medical decisions for you in a situation where you are no longer capable of making them for yourself.

To state it publicly here so everyone knows, my medical proxy is Sara Laughlin, who I refer to as “Blue”. She is my sister. Ninja has her contact information, and I’m assuming if I’m ever in a situation where I can’t make my own medical decisions, Ninja will be around.

Ninja (whose real name is Mike Schlosser), is my secondary medical proxy. That means that if Blue is not available to decide and it needs to be made sooner than she can be reached, he is authorized to do so.

People ask me why my spouse is not my primary medical proxy. The short and true answer is, he chose not to. He feels that in a moment of grief, faced with losing his spouse, he would not be able to carry out my wishes as I have outlined them. My sister is sort of the “family medical proxy”, as she holds my mother’s proxy as well. She’s a rational, even-keeled person who knows me pretty damn well and knows what I would and would not want.

I am going to fill out new forms in the next few weeks. I am going to file them in the box with all my medical information. Currently, that box lives underneath the seat of my piano. If for any reason there is an emergency, that box should have all of my pertinent information in it, and all my legal paperwork including my will, my directives, and that sort of thing.

Whether or not you suffer from chronic illness, or think you’re going to die soon, it’s important for you to have Advanced Directives if you want any say in what happens to you and your stuff if you lose the ability to consent. If you go to this website:AARP’s Advanced Directives Site, it gives you a state by state choice, so you can download the paperwork necessary to create your documents, including what steps you need to take to make it legal. (I need to figure out who can witness mine who has no interest in having anything of mine after I die, because a witness can’t have any financial interest in your estate. So not one lunchbox, not one key. Any takers?)

Furthermore, if you have other nifty things like a checking account or stocks or a kickass vinyl collection, this Wall Street Journal article outlines other documents you should have in place so that you, and not the state (or your estranged family’s lawyers) dictates who gets what and how things are handled. This includes funeral preparations; for those of you Pagans who don’t want your family to mourn you in a Church, this may be important to you. (But keep in mind that funerals are more about comforting the living than uplifting the dead, so if the majority of the people you know are of a certain faith, it might be useful to let them mourn you in a familiar way. Luckily, most of my close friends and family are Pagan…)

Even though this is not a “When I Die” post, I’m going to categorize it as such anyway, since if someone is poking through my blog looking for my last wishes, knowing where my important documents are kept should be among those things. And yes, you too should tell more than just your spouse/parents/roommates where your medical proxy information is; you never know who will be alive and functional to help in times of crisis.

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3 Comments

  1. Fala said,

    Too many people don’t have these things, including me.

    If you like, I’d gladly witness the documents for you. (Not sure when we’d be able to meet up before May, but we could certainly figure something out.)

  2. Tirani said,

    I made sure all of my documents were in order prior to surgery. I know too many folks in too many different communities who don’t think about doing this to ensure that their wishes are honored. Thank you for boosting the signal on this important issue.

  3. Wintersong said,

    Reblogged this on BarkingShaman.com and commented:
    Del’s post is a valuable reminder about having your advanced directives and other death related paperwork together. Also, if you haven’t given any thought to what you want to happen to you if you are not in a position to make medical decisions, there’s really no time like the present.

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