FEW OF US enjoy the thought of making plans for getting seriously sick, disabled or dying. But what we do now will have a profound impact later on those we love.
Take, for example, Louise and Ben.
Long before she fell, Louise put all her important papers in one place and told her son where to find them.
She gave him the name of her lawyer, as well as a list of people he could contact at her bank, doctor’s office, insurance company and investment firm.
She made sure he had copies of her Medicare and other health insurance cards.
She made sure her son could access her checking account and safe deposit box at the bank.
Louise made sure Medicare and her doctor had written permission to talk with her son about her health and insurance claims.
On the other hand, Ben always took care of family money matters and he never talked about the details with his partner.
No one but Ben knew that his life insurance policy was in a box in the closet or that the car title and deed to the house were filed in his desk drawer.
Ben never expected that his partner would have to take over.
His lack of planning has made a tough job even tougher.
As you might imagine, Louise’s family was spared the angst that Ben’s family had to incur.
In this way, Louise planning provided ease and comfort for her grieving family — which is what we’d each want, isn’t it?
In that light, here are some recommendations from the National Institute on Aging for getting your affairs in order now:
• Put your important papers and copies of legal documents in one place.
You can set up a file. Put everything in a desk, dresser drawer or list the information and location of papers in a notebook.
If your papers are in a bank safe deposit box, keep copies in a file at home.
• Check each year to see if there’s anything new to add.
• Tell a trusted family member or friend where you put all your important papers.
You don’t need to tell this friend or family member about your personal affairs, but someone should know where you keep your papers in case of an emergency.
If you don’t have a relative or friend you trust, ask a lawyer to help.
• Discuss your end-of-life preferences with your doctor.
He or she can explain what health decisions you may have to make in the future and what treatment options are available.
Talking with your doctor can help ensure your wishes are honored.
Discussing advance care planning decisions with your doctor is free through Medicare during your annual wellness visit.
Private health insurance may also cover these discussions.
• Give permission in advance for your doctor or lawyer to talk with your caregiver as needed.
There may be questions about your care, a bill or a health insurance claim.
Without your consent, your caregiver may not be able to get needed information.
You can give your OK in advance to Medicare, a credit card company, your bank or your doctor.
You may need to sign and return a form.
Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order will soon begin easing up.
I pray that each reader of this column will get to work on getting your affairs in order while we have extra time at home.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is [email protected].