Care at the End of Life - Important Decisions
People under the age of 18 must have a
parent's or guardian's consent to donate organs.
Even if you
complete a donor card or indicate your wishes on your driver's license, it is
important to discuss your decision with your family. After your death, your
family may be asked to give consent prior to donating your organs. For this
reason, it is important to involve your family.
will not disfigure your body, nor will it interfere with your funeral,
including plans for an open casket funeral. You and your family will not be
responsible for the costs associated with organ donation. Those costs are paid
by the person who receives the organ.
As you make end-of-life decisions,
an attorney can advise you on how best to organize your estate so your family
can handle your affairs after your death. Also, a financial planner or social
worker may be available in your community or through a local hospital or
hospice program. If your finances are limited, some attorneys and accountants
offer services at a reduced rate or at no cost (pro bono).
planning may include:
- Writing a will. If you already have a will,
it may need to be updated. If you do not make your wishes known in a will, your
state law may dictate what happens to your property when you die. Typically,
property is distributed to a spouse, to children, or if there is no spouse or
children, to other relatives. If no relatives can be found, your property may
be taken by the state. Consider appointing a person to oversee your property
after your death. This person is called an executor. After you write your will,
keep it in a safe place, and let your executor and close family members know
where it can be found.
- Appointing someone to make financial
decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so.
one or more people to care for your minor children (guardianship). A
guardianship is a legal arrangement in which an adult has the court-ordered
authority and responsibility to care for a child under the age of 18 or for an
- Ensuring your records are in a safe,
accessible place. Documentation of a life insurance policy, pension, retirement
account, or annuity should be stored in a safe place, along with bank account
information, deeds to real estate, or investment information. Close family
members, the executor of your estate, and your attorney should know where this
information is kept.
Choosing the care you want
As soon as you are diagnosed with a serious illness, you may benefit from palliative care to relieve pain and maintain comfort. For more information, see the topic