Death represents a significant and vulnerable point in time for both the individual facing it and his or her loved ones. In the medical field, it is even associated with failure; only five out of 125 medical schools (4%) in the country offer a course on death and dying. This negative stigma means that what should be accepted as a natural part of life, often becomes an uncomfortable topic.
However, it is important to talk about death with loved ones. There are emotional benefits to reflecting on a life spent together, and expressing gratitude and admiration. It is also important to ask difficult questions so that this topic receives adequate attention and preparation. While everyone would prefer to focus on life, a significant amount of stress related to death can be reduced by proper planning.
Press play to hear McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus explain his 10 recommendations below for getting the best end-of-life care:
1. Know your options – What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?
2. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s – Are all the necessary legal documents in order?
3. Broach the subject – Have you had a discussion with your loved one to understand what his or her wishes are?
4. Nail down the timeline – When does your loved one want end-of-life care to begin?
5. Research reputation – Have you discovered all that you can about the potential care facilities that you are considering?
6. Find out who is behind the mask – How well do you know your loved one’s care providers?
7. Do your due diligence – Have you done your own research? Have you asked care providers to tell you what you can do to help? Have you explored all of the factors that could influence your decision?
8. Learn the ins and outs – Is in-patient or out-patient care best for your loved one and family?
9. Prepare Plan B – Do you have a backup plan?
10. Ask for help – Could your loved one and family benefit from counseling?
For guidance on ensuring that your estate plan reflects your wishes for life and death, contact McManus & Associates at 908-898-0100.
Karen Brown, a reporter at New England Public Radio, contributed a heartbreaking op-ed to The New York Times that was published over the weekend. In the piece, “This Was Not the Good Death We Were Promised,” Karen shares the story of her father’s death…and how his final time on earth fell short of what he (and she) wanted – from the article:
But at the very end, confronted by a sudden deterioration in my father’s condition, hospice did not fulfill its promise to my family — not for lack of good intentions but for lack of staff and foresight.
John O. McManus, founding principal of McManus & Associates, was moved by the piece and wanted to reach out to Karen. Below is the comment that John submitted in response to the article, which was selected as one of only 16 “Times’ Picks” out of more than 750 reader comments and has already been recommended over 120 times.
I too, am saddened by your loss. What an elegant job you do outlining the issues, and an evolution in hospice care will come.
Running an estate planning law firm, I see our team confronted with the passing of loved ones more frequently than we would ever wish.
What strikes me most was how wonderfully you and (ostensibly) your siblings were there with your father “curled up with him” as he undoubtedly curled up with you in your youth, a heartwarming demonstration of the cycle of life and family.
Indeed your father was not in an enviable position in his final hours, but your father has so much for which to be thankful in his final months as you all comforted and tended to him. The stories of each of you, your father’s children, making your daily sacrifices, no doubt skipping work, time with your own children and social commitments, never cease to significantly move me showing the power of humanity to comfort loved ones and the strength and commitment to the family bond.
Despite those final hours, I submit that your father was — and if you believe in an afterlife — your father is happier than you might ever give yourself credit to appreciate. Your work sends a great message to your children.
McManus & Associates is here to provide guidance to you and your family on the creation of a plan that will do everything possible to help avoid heartbreaking situations like Karen’s. Reach out to us at 908-898-0100.
New Jersey Newsroom Columnist Warren Boroson (“Boroson on Money”) has a new, interesting piece on how to avoid fighting over family heirlooms and personal property after the death of a loved one. The column hinges on McManus & Associates’ recent conference call on the topic, which you can listen to here. Following the call, Boroson spoke with the firm’s Founding Principal and top AV-rated Attorney John O. McManus to gather more details. The result, “Who Inherits Dad’s Subscription to Giants’ Football Games?” is worth checking out.
Here’s a peek:
Who gets dad’s subscription to New York Giants football games – worth a ton of money? Who gets the little silhouettes someone made of all the family members? Who gets grandma’s expensive jewelry? Who gets Fido and the Chairman Meow and other family pets? What about liquor collections, gun collections, rare books, and other “non-titled property”?
A will may not specify who gets such property, with the result that the heirs may wind up fighting over trivial stuff – and expensive stuff. And the resentment may last the rest of their lives. A little planning, says lawyer John O. McManus of McManus & Associates in New Providence, can prevent a lot of hard feelings and family feuds. “Things, personal effects, closely-held assets and land can cause significant fighting among loved ones and oftentimes attorneys give hardly any attention to such items in the creation of legal documents,” McManus warns.