A Simple Piece of Paper

Lee, Shelley A.
July 2005
Journal of Financial Planning;Jul2005, Vol. 18 Issue 7, p10
Academic Journal
This article presents the author's opinion on the importance of advance directives to financial planing. In a recently published book, ...And a Time to Die, Sharon Kaufman chronicles the death of 27 people, describing how they pass their final days and hours. According to one review, Kaufman defunks the cozy belief that if we just have all our paperwork in order we can control how we die. She includes examples of seriously ill patients who decide they wan to continue living, no matter what they signed earlier. It is easy to forget that advance directives are important, even necessary, tools of financial planning when the picture that a family confronts is a family member struggling for each breath. Somehow, all the legal and financial paperwork seems useless. Except it is not--because about 75 percent of people in the U.S. will die in a hospital under a do not resuscitate order, an order by a doctor that comes directly from the wishes of an individual expressed in a living will. This statistic is good, says Joseph Fins, subject of our 10 Questions interview. It means these are not unilateral decisions by doctors, these are decisions by families and conversations have been held. It is the voice of the patient coming through. These negotiated deaths include patients, their doctors, their families and their pieces of paper that may have started those conversations.


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