Richard Streitfeld – Buddhist Mensch

When we think about “estate or elder care planning” (actually most of us do NOT want to think about these things) what comes to mind? A living will, how to allocate assets, who will handle financial matters or make medical decisions if we are incapacitated, And who do we typically associate with these documents– ourselves or our parents.

CONSIDER THIS:  Your daughter just turns 18  and injures her foot at work, needs  emergency treatment. When Melissa panics, she can’t think straight.  She doesn’t consent to the stitches the surgeon recommends to stem the bleeding and prevent infection.  What can you do?  Your only recourse might be a court order (which would likely be too late.) Melissa is legally an adult, and is legally bestowed with all the rights and responsibilities that entails….Her doctor may not disclose her health care details to you under HIPAA. And no, it doesn’t matter that you are paying the insurance premiums.

Or, son Bentley is off to college, courtesy of your hard work over 20 years. You want to see his grades, but he refuses. Many colleges will not issue you a transcript without your showing legal authority. Or you get along great but he’s a hostage in Africa and you need to wire money from his account for ransom.  Or, even more simply, he is on a silent Buddhist retreat and forgot to sign an apartment lease that is now due.

You get the point — for a small investment  (perhaps well under $1,000)  you can have a set of planning documents such as a  health care proxy and durable power of attorney prepared that will grant you permission to act on your child’s behalf in certain situations. And how to convince them to sign?  Gentle persuasion works best, but parents have been known to make tuition or a car, for example, dependent on cooperation.

Pictured here, is my son Yonah, who injured his hand at work and needed emergency treatment.  Thank God we agreed on treatment — we don’t have those docs yet!

E-mail me if you need  the name of a local attorney who can help you (like the one who is helping me, and whose counsel inspired this article.)


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