Conversations to Have with Your Attorney-In-Fact and Personal Representative
Estate planning involves more than just getting your legal documents completed. It is also a good idea to talk to the people you choose to name as your attorney-in-fact (via your power of attorney) and personal representative (via your will).
First, explain to each person what responsibilities are entailed and ask them for permission to name them to that role. Next, discuss your wishes concerning medical treatment and end of life care with your attorney-in-fact. With your personal representative, consider discussing your preferences on these issues:
· whether you prefer burial or cremation,
· whether you would like a funeral, obituary, memorial service, etc.,
· whether you have already picked out and paid for a place to be buried or a cremation facility,
· how to access all of your accounts, online or otherwise,
· what assets and liabilities you have,
· any memberships you hold that need to be ended, and
· how to access your house and safety deposit box.
You may also wish to discuss some of these issues with family members, clergy, your doctor, and friends, particularly if you are in poor health, older, or terminally ill.
Conversations to Have with the Person Who Named You as Attorney-In-Fact or Personal Representative
If someone has named you as their attorney-in-fact or personal representative, it is incredibly important to discuss your role, their situation, and their beliefs about end of life care and medical treatment.
Sometimes these discussions can be straightforward and relatively easy. Other times, they can be emotional or difficult to start. It can be especially difficult for an adult child to bring up these issues with an elderly parent or family member.
Here are some online resources to begin these conversations and to keep the conversations from becoming too emotional or stressful:
1. If applicable, read the article, How to Talk to Parents About Aging, about techniques to initiate this conversation with your parents: http://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/aging-caregiving/talk-parents-aging-00000000010442/index.html
2. Print out and use the Value Worksheet on pages 8 and 9 of the referenced document, available at http://www.compassionwa.org/docs/CandC_Advance_Directive.pdf to guide your conversation.
3. Consider using the article, Case Stories for Conversation Starters about Advance Care Planning, http://www.chippewavalleycarecoalition.org/documents/case_studies.pdf for a less structured discussion.
4. Look through 35 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents to see if there are any other questions you should be asking, http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-08-2010/gs_talking_points.html.
Still have questions? Here are more online resources:
· Compassion & Choices of Washington Home Page: http://www.compassionwa.org/
· Caring Connections Home Page: www.caringinfo.org
· Chippewa Valley- FAQ: http://www.chippewavalleycarecoalition.org/faq.phtml
· Articles by a Doctor regarding End of Life Care and decisions: http://www.dyingwell.org/writings.htm
· Death With Dignity Act Information: http://www.compassionwa.org/dwda.html
· POLST Information : http://www.compassionwa.org/polst.html
· LGBT Issues and Resources: http://www.compassionwa.org/lgbtq.html
Author: Alerian Hall
Estate Planning Attorney