In recent years, the specialty of care management has sprung up. I have seen it in use when children are far away from a parent and need someone close by to set up medical appointments, arrange transportation, find and oversee a personal caregiving team, or even set up medications on a weekly basis. I have not heard that these companies are actually named as a medical power of attorney for health care, but I imagine that this wouldn’t be hard to find out.
At any rate, I thought I would send this information along.
Comment: Thank you for a very interesting article. My husband and I found ourselves in a similar position: family too far away and not aligned with our values. We do not have friends who would or could manage this for us. Our estate planning attorney drew up all the documents you mentioned in the article and gave us some options for who we could have manage our end of life issues/wishes.
The trusted resource we chose to manage our end of life affairs is the local county (Sonoma County, Calif.) Council on Aging Services for Seniors, by and through its licensed fiduciary agent. Before we selected them, we met with them, went over all our plans to be sure they would carry out our wishes. Of course, as executors of our estate, they will be paid from the estate. Any remainder will go, by percentage, to the nonprofits we named. The agent(s) are in touch with us annually to see if we need to make any changes or additions.
This arrangement took the pressure of our relative isolation (excuse the pun!) off our shoulders and gave us the security we were seeking so we could stop worrying about this and move on to the other, more enjoyable, things. I hope this idea will be of help to others dealing with these concerns.
Comment: I am in the same situation as your reader asking about “end-of-life agents.”
My new documents are currently in process. The hardest part has been finding an attorney to prepare the documents who doesn’t sleepwalk their way through them, or push me to toe the line by naming all the usual suspects.
I am not a “high-net worth” individual. (I have only one comma in my net worth.) Thus, trust companies can’t be bothered. And frankly, I’d rather have my money go to a cause other than a corporate bottom line.
My only family is a couple of estranged nieces and a nephew, all living on the opposite coast. The nieces wouldn’t tell me the time of day, and it seems unfair to have the nephew drop everything and fly coast-to-coast basically to organize a garage sale. As an introvert, friends have always been few, and all but one (who lives in Canada) have now died off.
I am old enough to be retired, but young enough to keep a part-time job, just to keep from rusting out. This is where I’m finding “my” people — my younger co-workers. I’ve been able to observe them for a few years and see how they handle their own lives, particularly with regard to dying parents. I chose two in order to have a backup. When I approached them, of course they were shocked, and then felt honored.
It was important to be able to describe exactly why I’d chosen them, what would be required of them, and that everything leftover in the estate would be theirs to keep, above and beyond the executor’s fee mandated by the state. Sort of a “lovely parting gift” for taking the trouble to deal with lawyers and paperwork.
I took a lesson from my own parents when they died, which was to have all the ducks in a row well in advance. I used one of those workbooks to organize all the information and instructions. (I chose “I’m Dead, Now What?” available on Amazon.) I’ve prearranged and prepaid my funeral. My investment accounts all have named beneficiaries — all charities. I own no real estate or other physical assets, so we’re talking only an apartment’s worth of furniture and personal property, (which as a minimalist, isn’t much) plus whatever’s left in bank accounts, state pension and the safe.
So, after-death work should be quick and easy. My landlord knows who to call when the neighbors complain about the stink. They in turn, call the undertaker (in my state, there’s a separate form authorizing that), close all accounts (all information is kept in an easily accessible file), pay the final taxes, then have a garage sale.
The harder part is what happens should I become incapacitated. To keep things simple, the same people are named in the health-care proxy and financial power of attorney. I’ve not yet gone with a living will. I’m settling for a long discussion and a few written instructions, all shared with my doctors. My state also honors a MOLST (medical orders for life-sustaining treatment) which, closer to the end, puts most all decision-making in the hands of the doctors.
It’s the best I can come up with. It’s not ideal, so I’m open to other options. Hope this helps.
Ilyce and Sam respond: Our thanks to all of the readers who responded to this column. Clearly, each of you has chosen a specific option for valid reasons. Sharing your personal choices will help all of our readers think through other options they may not have considered previously. We’ll continue to publish reader responses in future columns.
Ilyce Glink is the author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” (Fourth Edition). She is also the chief executive of Best Money Moves, an app that employers provide to employees to measure and dial down financial stress. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact them through the website, BestMoneyMoves.com.