As a country, we tend to avoid talking with our loved ones about the inevitable: our deaths. As 5280 Magazine recently put it, “we … tend to separate ourselves, emotionally and physically, from both the ugliness and the beauty of our inevitable ends.”
As part of a longer feature article about the recently approved Proposition 106, the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act, 5280 shares the story of a woman who found her father’s estate planning documents neatly organized in a blue notebook in his bedroom at home when he unexpectedly needed to be put into an induced coma.
“My Father’s Final Gift” is the name of this section of the article.
Help to uncloud and tether your thinking
One noteworthy aspect of her experience is that in the aftershock of having gotten a sudden call from the surgeon and traveling via plane and car to her father’s hospital bedside, her thoughts were “clouded and untethered.” Finding the estate planning documents gave her an understanding of her father’s wishes as well as the legal power to manage his finances as his agent through a financial power of attorney.
He also had appointed her as his health care agent and likely included his wishes concerning medical decisions through a medical durable power of attorney. He also had executed a living will to direct what, if any, life-sustaining treatment he wanted should he face the end of his life without the ability to communicate his wishes.
In other words, at a time of confusion, stress and emotional turmoil, having the legal documents in place gave her the authority and guidance to make important medical and financial decisions on her father’s behalf and take care of his affairs. This was particularly helpful given that her parents were divorced.
Estate planning is about your loved ones
Her dad was in the hospital about four months, during which time she “would reread, reference, fax, scan, copy, and email those documents — particularly the powers of attorney — countless times.” The daughter was grateful to her “typically nonconformist” parent that he had done his estate plan. She said that, “[w]ithout his wishes committed to paper, I know I would not have been able to fully and confidently make decisions on his behalf …”
After her father passed, she considered the estate plan “one of the last — and best — gifts he ever gave me.”