Getting Our Affairs in Order
In the days after my husband, Todd, was diagnosed with ALS, I was overwhelmed with what lay before us. But Todd went into preparation mode.
“We need to sell the house,” he said. “We need to move near your family.”
It took more than a year for the house to sell, but when it finally did, we moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and built an accessible home next door to my parents. Being near family in a house designed for disability has made life easier than it would have been.
Todd also created a document titled “In Event of Death.” I’m sure I’ll be in a fog after he dies, so I’m grateful he’s laid out steps of what I should do, such as close his credit card and discuss survivor benefits with staff from the Social Security Administration. He included phone numbers, account numbers, and passwords.
After the diagnosis, I was very aware of the fragility of life and wanted to have a plan for our young children in the event something should happen to me, too. We created a will using a template we found online and had our friends sign as witnesses.
A few years later, we met with a lawyer to update our wills. We also made a durable power of attorney for financial affairs so I can take care of legal and financial matters on Todd’s behalf. We filled out a document that designates a patient advocate and durable power of attorney for medical care decisions. It was surreal to consider the options:
- Choice 1: I do not want life-sustaining treatment if I’m terminally ill.
- Choice 2: I want life-sustaining treatment unless I am in a coma or vegetative state that my doctor reasonably believes to be irreversible.
- Choice 3: I want my life to be prolonged to the greatest extent possible.
If Todd is injured in an accident and unable to make decisions, I know what his wishes are. We also discussed what he wants done in the event he gets COVID-19 or another respiratory illness, and the decision must be made to intubate, get a tracheostomy, or not.
We added my name to the telephone account. We changed the utility bill to my name.
Todd created maps showing the location of power and water lines around our home. I made notes on home maintenance, such as having our septic tank pumped every couple years and cleaning the air exchanger filters every six months.
I don’t think I could ever feel emotionally prepared to lose my husband, but on a practical level, we’ve planned the best we can, and that gives me some peace of mind.
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