This post, 7 Documents That Are Good to Have Before Surgery, is part of a 31 day writing challenge, and the theme for SimpleStepsForLivingLife’s daily series is Prepping for Surgery.
Please note: all articles are written on SimpleStepsForLivingLife are ONLY my opinions and should not replace that of a medical or law professional. This series of posts are about what I have learned from having surgery and being about to have surgery again. I am not a medical or law professional at all, please consult with your doctor or a law professional when it comes to anything to do with your health and legal needs.
If you’ve been following the Prepping for Surgery series, then you might have read my last post How to Adjust When Plans Change. It was a small scare that the spots found on the mammogram could mean cancer, but thankfully that was not the case. It did get me thinking about mortality though and that small (very small) percentage chance that things could go wrong for the elective surgery that eventually I’ll be having. A small percentage possibility helped me realize the importance of having end of life documents prior to surgery. Please remember I am not an expert in matters of law (or much anything else) so be sure to seek professional advice when setting up these documents.
These documents can include the following:
- A will or living trust – An attorney or website like LegalZoom can help you determine which choice is right for your situation. For real-estate properties, you may create a transfer on death deed which makes you retain full control during life and passes ownership to beneficiary without going through probate process when unexpected death happens.
- Durable power of attorney – From what I understand, this is active as soon as you create the document but verify this with an attorney or other authoritative resource. It is appointing who you chose to take care of your finances in case you are incapacitated.
- Power of attorney – This is also known as the Health Care Proxy. The person you appoint will help in making medical decisions for you in case you are incapacitated.
- Medical information release – This document may or may not be necessary depending on the wording of your Power of Attorney and also the state laws for which you live. It is good to have already on hand including the people you trust to have your medical information be released to.
- Living will – This is also known as an Advance Care Directive. In this document you should spell out what medical procedures you are ok with and which ones you are not ok with. It is a document that you should include directive on when is it ok to “pull the plug.” Make that decision now and document it whether that means you want to be on life support indefinitely or want to be off life support after the medical team tries it out for an hour. Don’t burden your loved ones and cause them more heartache then they will already be facing by making them decide for how long you should be on life support.
- A list of all emails, website memberships, and monetary accounts with logins and passwords.
- A list of medicines currently or recently using. A synopsis of medical history.
As with all of the documents above, these need to be stored in a safe, secure place like a safety deposit box or safe. You may also want to supply a copy of the documents to any person you list as a beneficiary, executor, or mentioned in the document in any way. You will need to use a website like LegalZoom or contact an attorney for more indepth information on what the documents should include, where to have them notarized, whether or not the document has to be filed with the county clerks office or any other government agency, and more. It is important to get these documents in order prior to surgery and just for life in general. If you cannot afford a lawyer or LegalZoom, seek out a Pro Bono project in your area. This is where lawyers will assist low income clients with their legal needs if they qualify for the service.
Another option is what I have recently done. Keep in mind, this is what is going to have to work for my situation and I strongly urge you to seek legal advice from a professional and not me.(I’m disclaimering everything in this article! LOL) I do not have the extra money to pay for LegalZoom or a lawyer at this time. My other option was to get out a piece of paper and hand write my will. I included the executor of the will, who would get all my “stuff,” and most importantly who would be guardian of our kids. I also included backup people in case my first pick was not living. Then I took this to a Pack & Ship place to have the very unofficial looking document notarized. Notaries can also sometimes be found at banks, government agencies, or searching the yellow pages. The notary guy I had gave me a weird look and kept telling me that I should use LegalZoom or a lawyer. Yep, I should. I know this but until I can get to it financially and timewise, then this handwritten will should get things taken care of just in case something happens to me. (This is not the best way to have documents needed prior to surgery.)
These are just the documents needed prior to surgery that I will make sure to have for my situation. Your situation is different so prepare according to what you are facing. Having these in place before surgery will help with peace of mind and be helpful for family in case of emergency.
For more helpful Prepping for Surgery series articles, click here. For a FREE printable of questions to ask during your preOperation appointment, please leave your email address in the box below.