About two years ago I received a call from a gentleman who lived in a senior housing complex. He didn’t remember how he got my name. He said he wanted to prepare a will, power of attorney and a living will and asked If I could help him. During the initial call, I learned he had little money, was never married, had no children and no relatives and did not drive. Would I be able to come to his apartment, he asked. This is the type of request that it is hard to turn down.
I visited him a few times and discussed his wishes. His biggest problem was that he had no one to take charge of his finances or to make medical decisions in case he became disabled. He had someone in mind, but he wasn’t sure. I sent him documents so that he could see what they looked like and then make up his mind. Something prevented Carl from signing the documents when I sent them to him for review. He canceled two appointments because he was not feeling well. On the third try, I arrived only to find him in bed, too sick, he said, to meet with me. I cajoled him our of bed, and we talked. He really did not want the individual he had tentatively designated, because they really had not had any contact for a while. I said I could not help him unless he designated someone.
He asked if I would be willing to act as his agent. Although I did not know him very well, I knew that his age and illness were working against him. If I did not accept, he would likely never get his affairs in order. I changed the documents and tried several times to reach him to make an appointment for him to sign. Finally, I received a call from his doctor. Carl was in the hospital, the doctor said, and indicated that I was his agent. When I told the doctor the documents had not yet been signed, he thanked me and abruptly hung up. A few days later, I received a call from a nursing home that Carl was there for rehab. We quickly set up an appointment, and Carl signed the power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a living will.
Not long afterwards, there was a call from the hospital. Carl’s chest cavity was filling up with fluid. Would I authorize aspiration? The events that followed will be part of the follow-up next month to this month’s YOUNGER LAW NEWS article. It will illustrate the importance of having someone to act for you and gives insight into the responsibilities of the agent.
I won’t leave you with a cliffhanger. Carl died on Mother’s Day. I cried quietly to myself when I saw Carl for the last time. The funeral director and I were the only ones who attended his funeral. I was happy and honored to have been there so that he was not alone at the end.