Category Archives: End of Life Planning

When Should I Write My Will? A Lesson from House, M.D.

I was watching a rerun of House, MD last night. One of the main character doctors became severely ill over the span of a couple of days. Finally, in severe pain, he was going to be put into a medically induced coma with the chance he might not survive. At this point he feebly tells his colleague “I don’t have a will.” “I’ll get the lawyer” she responds. “And I want you to be my medical proxy,” he adds.

The danger of being a lawyer when you watch this kind of show is that you start thinking “How is a lawyer going to get into that isolation room with some mysterious illness to have his will signed? Will they be able to get a lawyer there within a half hour and how will she get the document printed? And is he really making a good decision about his health care proxy when he’s delirious from pain? Why didn’t he do this sooner? They don’t have a requirement that all hospital employees sign a health care proxy?” And so on.

I have done will signings with clients where I (and my witnesses) have had to don protective clothing before entering the client’s hospital room. I have met with clients who waited until the last minute to make their plans about who would help them when they no longer had capacity. I have been in client’s homes to help them do their wills when they are literally on their death beds.  In each case, I wondered whether the plan the client was making was the same one they would have if they’d done it sooner, before they were sick, before they were in the hospital, before they had so little energy left.

So, for the sake of TV lawyers (who sadly didn’t even make it onto the show) and real lawyers and yourself, make your plans now while you are well, healthy and have the luxury of time to make decisions and change your mind and change it back again. And so that your lawyer doesn’t risk catching primary amoebic meningoencephalitis when they visit you in the hospital.


Will Your Family Honor Your Health Care Wishes?

When I work with my clients to help prepare their plans for what will happen to their things after they pass away, I also talk to them about making sure that we put a plan in place for what will happen to them while they are alive but incapacitated and need someone to communicate withContinue Reading

Hospice Home Opening in Hingham

The old Quaker Friends Home on Turkey Hill in Hingham is being reopened as a hospice facility this fall by Norwell VNA & Hospice. The Hospice Residence at Turkey Hill will have 12 beds in private rooms. According to the website: The focus of care is on providing physical, emotional, social and spiritual support forContinue Reading

The Importance of End of Life Planning

I thought about titling this post “We Are All Going To Die”… We can’t change whether or not we are going to die. We all are. Putting off talking about it or planning for it won’t make it not happen, but it could make it more confusing and painful for your loved ones. Seth GodinContinue Reading

Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) v. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

Massachusetts has a few forms that people need to be aware of that affect their health care and the treatment that they want. When to use the forms can be confusing.  Below is a summary of each one and when you would want to consider filling it out. A health care proxy is a formContinue Reading

Leaving A Memo or Letter With Your Will

Your Will is the place where you distribute certain types of property after your death. Anything that has a joint owner (like a house or a bank account) or a named beneficiary (like a retirement plan or insurance policy) will pass to the joint owner or beneficiary upon your death. Your other property is distributedContinue Reading

End of Life Conversations Will Result In Your Death – 100% of the Time

Everyone is going to die. All of us. Some will die when we are young, some when we are old. Some will die a quick death, and others will linger while those around us try to figure out what to do. (I know, I don’t like it either.) So, when the discussions about the MedicareContinue Reading

Helping Your Health Care Proxy

April is Health Care Decisions month, the month when you are supposed to sign health care proxies and talk to your family about your “end of life wishes.” I know many people will sign health care proxies, but I wonder how many will take that next step to communicate their wishes to their families, orContinue Reading

Living Wills for Children, or “I Want My Pepsi Now”

Many many years ago, before I was born, a beloved young cousin in my family was sick, and dying of leukemia.  Towards the end of his life, there was a sign above his bed that said "nothing by mouth," meaning he should not have anything to eat or drink as he was getting his nutritionContinue Reading

What to Do When You Can’t Decide

I sometimes have clients who have trouble making decisions – they can't decide who should be guardian of their children, they can't decide who to appoint as agent under a power of attorney, and they can't decide exactly how to distribute their property when they pass away.  And so they do nothing.  Maybe they callContinue Reading