How to Become an Organ Donor

If you want to become an organ donor, you need to communicate your wishes.
If you want to become an organ donor, you need to communicate your wishes.

If you want to become an organ donor, you should communicate those wishes to the people who will carry them out.

Organ donation is one of the most regulated aspects of the healthcare industry, and the legalities of being an organ donor have very unique considerations. Essentially, organ donation is the physical transfer of the body parts of a person (the donor) to another person through surgical means. Organ donation can occur during the donor’s lifetime or at the organ donor’s death. Here we’re focusing primarily on the transfer of organs at the time of the organ donor’s death.

Although the need for organ donations is exceptionally high worldwide, the supply is often low. The lack of clearly communicated and documented consent by a potential organ donor is one of the most common challenges to organ donation. Despite an individual’s desire to donate organs, a failure to follow the right protocol can render the individual’s decision unenforceable.

What You Can Donate

Scientific advancements now allow for a single donor to donate organs to up to seventy-five donees. Organ donors can provide their kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, and pancreas. Donors can also donate tissue such as bone, skin, tendons, corneas, bone marrow, and stem cells. There are even instances where hands and feet have been successfully transferred. However, for many of these organs, the transfer must be initiated within twenty-four hours. Additionally, each potential donor must be evaluated on a singular basis with respect to the particular organ at issue.

Alternatively, some donors are interested in donating their entire body to scientific research. If you are interested in this route, you must be careful to avoid organ donation opportunities because scientific research requires complete bodies. In such instances, identifying the scientific institute you are interested in donating to and working with that institute directly is the best method. As you work with them, be careful to document your specific intent to donate your remains to science.

Making Your Wishes Known

There are a number of ways to make your wishes regarding organ donation known and increase the likelihood that they will be enforced. The most effective approach is a comprehensive one. This involves registration as a donor, legal planning, and communication of your wishes. The first and most important step is registering as an organ donor, which you can do in two ways: (1) find your state’s unique registry on www.organdonor.org and register online or (2) register at your local department of motor vehicles. In the latter scenario, your license will likely state that you are an organ donor.

The next step you can take is ensuring your wishes are recorded in your estate planning documents. An advance healthcare directive and living will are key documents that can include your end-of-life wishes. Finally, to ensure that your wishes are known, communicate them to your friends and family. These are the people who will end up intimately involved with your end-of-life decisions. Carefully select your healthcare agent and clearly communicate to that agent your desire to donate your organs.

It is important to note that the steps described above should not be taken in isolation. This is particularly true regarding your estate plan and communication of your wishes to friends and family. If there are conflicts between your plan and what family members think your wishes are, some states give greater weight to the documents memorializing your wishes. Your estate plan should contain your wishes, as well as information on any donor registrations you have made. Your documented wishes should then be expressed to those closest to you and who will carry out your wishes after you pass away.

Continue Reading How to Become an Organ Donor

Things You Should Not Keep in Your Safe Deposit Box

A safe deposit box may not be the best place to keep some items.
A safe deposit box may not be the best place to keep some items.

A safe deposit box isn’t a smart choice for everything. Kiplinger’s recent article entitled “9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box” advises that there are some items you might not want to lock away in your bank, which isn’t open nights, holidays, or weekends. During this pandemic, hours of operation for many businesses are reduced. Some financial institutions have temporarily closed some locations. There are other banks that require an appointment for in-branch services, like accessing your safe deposit box. This could create a headache if you’re trying to retrieve important documents or items when you need them.

Here are some items you should store elsewhere, because may need to access them more often or on short notice.

Cash. Keeping a large amount of cash in a safe deposit box isn’t a good idea. If you need it at a time when the bank is closed, you’re out of luck. In addition, the cash may lose its buying power over time because of inflation. You may also find that some banks don’t allow cash in a safe deposit box. Finally, cash in a safe deposit box isn’t protected by the FDIC. To have FDIC insurance (covering up to $250,000 per depositor per insured bank), your cash needs to be deposited in a qualifying deposit account, such as a checking account, savings account, or CD.

Your Passport.  If you need to take an emergency trip, you would not be able to pick up your passport during non-banking hours. If your travel requires a passport, there’s not much you can do about those calls in the middle of the night requiring you to travel immediately.

The Original of Your Will. It may not be a good idea to keep your original will in a safe deposit box because after your death, the bank may require the executor named in your will to obtain a court order to access the safe deposit box. That could mean a long and expensive delay before your will is probated and your estate is settled.

Funeral and Burial Instructions. Many people execute a legal document regarding the disposition of their remains or write a letter of instruction with funeral arrangements to accompany their will. The problem is that, if these instructions are hidden away in your safe deposit box, they may not be read in time to have any effect.

Uninsured Jewelry and Collectibles. Heirloom jewelry and your valuable stamp collection and rare coins are good candidates for a safe deposit box, but they must be properly insured. The FDIC doesn’t insure safe deposit box contents, and neither does the bank, unless it’s stated in your agreement.

Any Illegal or Dangerous Items. Your bank should provide you with a list of items that are not permissible to keep in a safe deposit box. This will include things like firearms, illegal drugs and hazardous materials.

You may also be interested in https://www.galliganmanning.com/does-your-estate-planning-include-your-online-account-passwords/.

Reference: Kiplinger (June 1, 2020) “9 Things You’ll Regret Keeping in a Safe Deposit Box”

 

Continue Reading Things You Should Not Keep in Your Safe Deposit Box

When Do You Need a Special Power of Attorney?

A special power of attorney can help you take care of business when you're unavailable.
A special power of attorney can help you take care of business when you’re unavailable.

Yahoo Finance’s recent article entitled “What is Special Power of Attorney?” explains that with a general power of attorney, you can designate a person to make decisions when you are unable, due to illness or incapacity. A general power of attorney allows your agent (the person you select) to do almost anything related to your financial affairs that you could do, including, for example, file your tax returns, sell your house, access bank records, or sign financial contracts in your name. There are usually few, if any, limitations.

A special power of attorney only applies to specific circumstances. This is also called limited power of attorney. An agent named in a special or limited power of attorney can only act in situations included in your power of attorney document. Maybe you’re traveling or out of town when an important transaction need to take place. A special power of attorney is often used to sell property when the buyer or seller is unable to attend the closing in person. In a special power of attorney you can set limitations and conditions under which your agent is authorized to act.

You can have multiple special powers of attorney, depending on your situation. You may want to give one agent the power to run your business while you’re away and give another agent the power to sell your car.

Remember that a special power of attorney, like a general power of attorney, only applies during your lifetime. If the special power of attorney does not include a date when it terminates, it must end when you pass away. Your assets would then be managed pursuant to the terms of your will or trust, if you have either. If a person dies without a will, then in most cases the assets are distributed according to the probate laws of the state where the person lived.

Typically, creating special power of attorney involves the following:

  • Naming a person to act as your agent
  • Detailing the specific terms under which a power of attorney will take effect
  • Determining which authority your agent will have
  • Designating a successor agent, if necessary, and
  • Choosing an end date for the power of attorney to terminate

A special power of attorney is just one of the documents you may need for your estate plan. You should also ask your estate planning attorney about a last will and testament and a living trust to help you manage assets, according to your wishes after you pass away. Other critical documents include advance health care directives which state the kind of care you should receive when you can’t make medical decisions for yourself.

For more information on other estate planning documents you may need see https://www.galliganmanning.com/living-wills-and-medical-powers-of-attorney-why-they-are-important/.

Reference: Yahoo Finance (Feb. 28, 2020) “What is Special Power of Attorney?”

 

Continue Reading When Do You Need a Special Power of Attorney?