Young and Old Need Advance Directives

Personal Finance March 22, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF

"You never know what's going to happen. You don't have to be old to die." - Lydia

Any time after you've turned 18 is a good time to write your living will and to choose a health-care agent that you trust. Some families start talking with one another about these issues and documents when they're planning a long trip overseas or have just survived a close call with a family member's health. Others begin when their children are born or reach maturity or when a spouse or parent dies. Many people are prompted by news stories—disturbing real-life cases like those of Terri Schiavo or Karen Quinlan. It's neither necessary, nor preferable, for us to wait until we are elderly or infirm.

Read on, or click on the video buttons below for discussion strategies.

Everybody should do it, old or young
Mari, community development specialist

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Mari -- Everybody should do it, old or young


Mari, community development specialist
Mari, community development specialist

Transcript: "I discussed it with my friends, just because I felt that, you know, I went through the process and it was pretty easy, self-explanatory, and I think that everybody should do it, no matter how old or young you are. Once you're legal age and have some life experience and know what it is that you want to happen in that situation, you should do it."


Our children may die before we do
Vernell, teacher

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Vernell -- Our children may die before we do


Vernell, teacher
Vernell, teacher

Transcript: "With the way things are going nowadays, I mean, who's to say, you know. It's so possible that our children may precede us, and I want to know what their wishes are and I would like their wishes to be carried out, too, because it's allowed for them just as it is for us. Just because they're younger doesn't mean they don't have wishes and desires about their care."


Do it when you can express your desires clearly
Mamie, college social work professor

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Mamie -- Do it when you can express your desires clearly


Mamie, college social work professor
Mamie, college social work professor

Transcript: "I think it's important to write them when you know what you're writing and what you want. I don't think that has a number to it. But there are some things in the literature that say anybody 40 or up should be sure that these things are in place. I would say that it's important to do it when you can express your desires clearly and understand them, believe them, and communicate them to other people. That's the ideal time to do it, in my opinion."


Make changes as your life changes
Jean, retired educator

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Jean -- Make changes as your life changes


Jean, retired educator
Jean, retired educator

Transcript: "After my husband died, that summer I decided I should make a will, should have a living will, should have all of those things taken care of because he left in such a hurry that I thought, now, if something should happen to me, there's got to be some things done. So, he died in May and I took care of it in June. And so after, as I said earlier, when the boys were finished with college, then I thought it was time to change the person that I had do that, and I started thinking about it, reading more about it, and then when I had my health problem and Nick did a very wonderful, efficient job, I thought definitely that was the one I was going to have, which I had already thought so but it was certainly a proving ground."






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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.