On the front page of yesterday’s Boston Globe was a story about a young woman from my hometown. A friend of mine used to babysit for this young woman. There are several connections and although I do not know her or her family personally, as a mother especially my heart breaks for them all. Here’s what happened:
Here’s what’s missing from the news stories, and where an estate planning attorney’s brain goes: Does this young woman have health care directives to enable the people she wants to make medical decisions for her right now while she is unable to do so herself? Does she have a power of attorney to enable the people she trusts to manage her finances and affairs for her while she is unable to do so herself – to pay her apartment and credit card and cell phone bills, etc.? Does she have a living will? Would she have wanted to be kept alive artificially indefinitely? Would she have wanted her family and friends to suffer having to make those horrible decisions rather than express her known wishes?
As a teenager I watched my grandparents suffer through difficult medical circumstances at the ends of their lives and was powerfully struck by what I observed. So at 18 I had a living will notarized and deposited a copy with my mother before heading off to college. OK, so I realize that may not be typical 18-year-old behavior, but perhaps it should be. If you’re that young adult yourself, please have a conversation with your parents about your wishes and make sure you have those basic legal documents in place, just in case you’re ever in an accident. If you’re the parent of a young adult, help your child have that conversation and get those basic protections in place.
Planning for the worst does not mean it will come to pass! You plan for the worst, then hope for the best and enjoy the present expecting it.