Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Lieu of Flowers

Often I have clients who want to have family members, upon his or her death, select a charity for donation. While this is difficult to capture in a will, a simple solution I offer to clients is to have the family select a charity "in lieu of flowers". And, if you have one or two in mind, you could share that with your family, but always reserve the right to change your mind. Sadly, this is an important thing to think about in advance, as I learned with the death of my father last fall.

We covered lots of decisions, but we failed to give consideration to selecting a charity to receive donations in lieu of flowers. Only after the obituary ran did I think, oh, we should have named the Dane County Humane Society. We did donate monies received to the organization, but I wish we would have thought of this earlier.

Book Recommendation: New Times, New Challenges

I received an updated copy of a book I reviewed for the Wisconsin Lawyer Magazine, now titled, New Times, New Challenges: Law and Advice for Savy Seniors and Their Families. In my book review, I recommended the book for all lawyers who serve the boomer population, but I'd also say it would be a useful reference for other professions serving seniors or for families assisting older relatives. Short chapters, concise writing, and humor sprinkled in make for an easy and enlightening read. Enjoy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

National Health Care Decision Day

April 16th has been declared National Health Care Decision Day, and the Wisconsin State Bar is aiming to help citizens complete these vital documents. Visit the Wisconsin State Bar website to learn more, and access downloadable forms in English and Spanish.

NPR Coverage of Obama Order: Same-sex Couple Vistitation

For those wanting to hear more about President Obama's Executive Order, by which all hospitals that accept Medicaid and Medicare, have to allow same-sex couples visitation rights, here is the NPR news story.

Enhancement of Right for Non-Relatives Visiting the Sick

Yesterday the Obama Administration issued an executive order, directing his Secretary of Health to develop administrative rules granting same-sex couples visitation rights in the hospital. The order would also extend this right to widows/widowers who have no children and rely on friends and religious organizations for care and support. There is no immediate effect of the order, as it will take time for the agency to develop and write rules. The NY Times reported that White House spokesman, Shin Inouye, said Thursday night:

“By taking these steps, we can better protect the interests and needs of patients that are gay or lesbian, widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, or others for whom their loved ones are not always immediate relatives. Because all Americans should be able to have loved ones there for them in their time of need.”

While this is being promoted as a LGBT victory, as an attorney, I see may heterosexual couples who are together, but not married. Based on news reports, it appears that they would benefit from this order as well.

However, I would still advise any client over the age of 18 to complete a power of attorney for health care, a living will, and a power of attorney for finance, whereby they nominate which people they want making health and financial decisions in the event of their incapacitation. Even married couples need to take these measures. The more paperwork you have completed, the easier the access should be in a time of need.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Profile: Palliative Care Doctor Struggles with Death

The NY Times ran a very touching article, profiling the work, life and death of Dr. Desiree Pardi. The article helps one understand the role of palliative care in our Nation's health system, and pays tribute to a wonderful doctor.