In the past I worked in estate planning, and thought it would be a good time now to explain that anyone who wants their estate to go to relatives without a significant cut taken out for the state government should write a will, a power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, and a directive to physicians.

The present attempt by the right wing to frighten the elderly out of taking rational steps while they still are in control of their faculties is very detrimental to their interests. Anyone who fails to pass on their estate, whatever it is, has enriched their state’s government and inconvenienced as well as cheated their heirs. If they do not trust anyone of their relatives or friends enough to give them power of attorney, a practicing attorney can be designated, with advisers appointed to watch over the process of division of the estate.

When I was preparing to take a long trip and was in my fifties, I took the step of making a will. Now, I’m realizing I should go ahead and make up the other documents. There are differences from state to state, but for me it will be easy to use as a template.

A power of attorney gives to someone the person trusts the legal power to take over when age or disability prevents the first person from taking care of themselves. Anyone can lose control through accident, disease, age, or mental derangement. It can happen at any time. Drawing up a power of attorney is a step that anyone who cares about their family should take. One is not declared incapable of handling their own affairs unless they can be proven to be a threat to themselves or others, and this has to be done by a court proceeding, with representation.

A health care power of attorney gives a relative, friend, or third party the power to make medical decisions for you. Only a person who is incapable of making these decisions themselves would be affected, and again, this is limited to those who have lost the power to make those decisions for themselves. The living will, or directive to physicians, gives a person’s statement of their preference for being kept alive by artificial means or not, a decision made when life can only be maintained by machinery.

Hospitals do not always honor a health care POA or a living will. There  have been legal disputes too often to leave anything to chance, and they do not always want to let people die, even when that person desperately wants to be let go, on the chance that later there will be a change of attitude or inclination.

I have had family members who were kept alive against their will, suffering, because there was no expression or document that asked for release from a life that had become a nightmare.

The right wing, in demonizing these legal and helpful instruments, does not have your interest in mind, only their own. It’s self-serving and pathetic.

Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.