Millie is 73 years old, and her health is rapidly failing. She wants to donate her organs to help someone else live a longer and healthier life. She also wants to be buried next to her second husband. Millie has three children -- two from her first marriage and one from her second marriage. The child from her second marriage has passed on, leaving Millie a granddaughter, Jenny.
Millie knows that her two surviving children, Fred and Ethel, are not comfortable with the concept of organ donation and that they want her buried next to their father. When Millie was admitted to the hospital, she was given information about a health-care power of attorney. In reading the document, she noted that her health-care agent has the power to make anatomical gifts and authorize the disposal of her remains.
She trusts her granddaughter, Jenny, to make these decisions on her behalf, knowing that Jenny will follow her wishes. Millie signs the documents with the appropriate witnesses and notary present and makes Jenny her health-care agent. She discusses her wishes with Jenny, who agrees to make sure that her organs will be donated, if possible, and that she will be buried next to her second husband.
Will Jenny be able to carry out her grandmother's wishes? Take the quiz below to see how much you know about after-death choices and the health-care power of attorney.
1. After signing the health-care power of attorney, Millie did all that she could do to ensure that her organs would be donated at her death.
2. After Millie's death, Jenny will have first priority in deciding to donate Millie's organs and bury her next to her second husband.
3. After Millie's death, her children, Fred and Ethel, will have the right to determine whether her organs are donated and where she is buried.
4. Whoever makes these decisions on Millie's behalf is legally bound to follow her oral wishes.
5. It depends upon whether Millie said "yes" to organ donation on her driver's license.
6. If Millie is competent up to the time that she dies, Jenny will not have the authority to donate Millie's organs or arrange for her burial.
See all Advance Directives Case Studies.
Adapted for use in the Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare program.
Content development by:
Carol A. Schwab, J.D., LL.M.,
Former Professor and Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
This document is for non-profit educational purposes only. This document may not be used by a profit-making company or organization. When used by a non-profit organization, appropriate credit must be given to the Cooperative Extension Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare education program. Materials for this program were developed by a team from six land-grant universities. The program is included in the program toolkit of the Cooperative Extension Financial Security in Later Life national initiative. For more information go to: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fsll.