Sunday, September 12, 2010

Idle Bridal Thoughts...

Wills and Living Wills

Ok, not to be a Debbie Downer or anything, but with weddings comes marriage, and with marriage comes serious stuff - finances, wills, sharing sinks, etc. So I'm going to delve into the whole wills thing for a minute. I know, depressing, right? But somebody's gotta do it, and it may as well be me.

So. Wills. Yes, we're only 31 and 33. Yes, we have more debt than we do assets (thank you, student loans!). But we both have life insurance policies, we own a house together, and we have a fair amount of money in savings. The powers that be will need to know what to do with that if/when something should ever happen to one of us. No, it's not a pleasant conversation to have. But it's a necessary one. One of my bridesmaids lost her husband (at the age of 35) to a massive heart attack just a few years into their marriage. Their son was 6 months old. He had no will. Nothing to direct who was supposed to get what. That was 4 years ago. There are still accounts that she can't access because he didn't declare that she should have the right to do so. 4 years later. I do not want this to happen to us. So, yeah, we need to sit down and figure this whole thing out.

The other part of this conversation is the living wills. What should your SO do if you're ever in the hospital and unable to speak for yourself? What are you wishes as far as medical treatment is concerned? As a hospital social worker, I assure you, this is extremely important. The last thing that anyone wants is to be fighting with the doctors (or worse, other family members) about what should and should not be done. Figure out what you want, state it clearly, get it in writing, and make sure everyone knows where to find it. In the state of Pennsylvania, it is not absolutely necessary to have this written up by a lawyer, nor is it necessary to have it notarized. It just makes it "more official" if these things are done. But as long as it's in writing and signed by you, it's good enough. State laws vary on this, though, so be sure to check into your own.

Decisions that have to be made include things like whether you want chest compressions, artificial feeding/hydration, dialysis, mechanical's a lot, and it's some really rough decisions to make. But if you sit down with your SO and talk it out, I promise you that it'll make any future hospital visits that much easier for him/her. If you assign your SO as your power of attorney, please make sure that they are aware of your wishes. I've had too many situations where the power of attorney was either not aware or didn't follow the patient's wishes, and once the patient was competent again, they were none too pleased to find out they received treatment they didn't want. There are a lot of great resources out there about advance directives. When speaking to patients and families about advance directives, we often us the Five Wishes booklet; it's a great guide written in non-doctor, non-lawyer speak.  It's legal in all states, and tells you if you live in a state where it needs to be notarized.

As I said, I know it's a morbid subject, but it's one that must be discussed in order to make hard decisions easier to make. Nothing is sadder than watching someone struggle with making a decision about treatment for a sick loved one when it could have already been made for them. It eases the burden for your SO and family. So please, take some time to talk this through with your SO, even if it feels totally out of place as a young, engaged or newly married couple. Yes, it is that important.

1 comment:

  1. One thing that's good about getting married (relatively) young is we've got NOTHING. We rent an apartment so no property, and the most valuable thing we own is our clothes. We probably won't be thinking of wills until we acquire, you know, stuff, but you are right, it is a very important conversation!