Death and Taxes – Part 1

By Lynn Weitzel, BSN, Retired Hospice RN Case Manager ~

April 15th looms as tax day. April 16, ironically, is National Healthcare Decisions Day, designed to ensure that all adults with decision-making capacity have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. In plain language, that means you decide how you want to die!

As a hospice RN, I saw too many families torn apart by a lack of planning for the inevitable end of this life. That’s why I am committed to teaching people how to have conversations with their loved ones, doctors, etc.; to write their advance directive for healthcare (AD); and to distribute copies to everyone who might be involved when the time comes. The objective of NHDD is to provide much-needed information to the public to reduce the number of tragedies that occur when a person’s wishes are unknown.

I work with Tomorrow’s Choices, a volunteer organization that holds free workshops at libraries, churches, and other public places. We provide the necessary information, paperwork, and direction to complete your AD. You don’t need a lawyer. You only need two witnesses – who won’t benefit from your will – and can say you are the competent signer.

In our workshops we have participants talk about why it is so hard, in our death-phobic society, to have a conversation about dying. We have them think about their own values and how they would wish to be treated near the end of life. Then we provide the forms to write their ADs.

A Colorado AD has three parts. In the first, the Medical Durable Power of Attorney, you designate people to be your Agent and Alternate Agent(s). They are the ones who will speak for you if a time comes that you cannot, because of an accident, illness or dementia, speak for yourself.

Our workshops cover such issues as our death-phobic society, how to write the AD, and who may be best able to make competent decisions on your behalf. Sometimes a spouse or child is not the best choice, because it is too hard for them to deal with the situation without an emotional crisis.

Next month we will cover the Living Will part of your AD, leading up to National Healthcare Decision Day on April 16. In the meantime, check out all the resources on the Tomorrow’s Choices website, www.tomorrowschoices.org.