This might sound like a grim or morbid question, but organ donation is surprisingly relevant to personal financial planning. Financial planning goes beyond saving and investing. A colleague of mine often reminds clients, “your portfolio is not your plan.” Comprehensive planning looks at your investments along with other elements of your finances, such as saving, risk management (think insurance), tax planning, employee benefits, retirement planning and estate planning. That last item is the element of financial planning that is related to organ donation. I’ll explain more below, but first, a little background.
Having estate planning documents in place is an important part of everyone’s financial plan. I also wrote about that topic at the end of last year in this post. Here are some basic estate planning documents.
This document specifies where you want your property to go upon your death. If you have children you can include guardians for their care in the event of your death. Nolo Press goes into more detail in their definition.
This document gives doctors and medical institutions permission to release your medical records to the person(s) you designate.
General Durable Springing Power of Attorney
This document gives the person you designate the power to act on your behalf. They can perform duties like writing checks or making investment decisions. It is “springing” because it springs into place when a certain event occurs (in this context, incapacitation).
Healthcare Power of Attorney
This document names the person in charge of your health care in the case of incapacitation. It also gives them guidelines for your care and the handling of your remains upon death. That’s where organ donation fits back in. The American Bar Association has a helpful reference guide that describes the personal and practical elements that go into choosing and putting in place a person to be named and the instructions you outline for them.
Here is an excerpt, regarding organ donation, from my Health Care POA. It was put in place two years ago by an estate planning attorney here in California.
“ARTICLE FOUR. DONATION OF ORGANS AT DEATH
4.1 Organ Donation. Upon my death, my agents may donate any needed organs, tissues, or parts.
4.2 Purposes. This gift shall be for the following purposes only: transplant.”
The language you choose might look a little different. For instance, you can choose to have your organs given to medical research in addition to transplant.
Everyone, regardless of their age or their financial situation, would be wise to communicate and formalize instructions regarding their medical care and how their remains would be handled if they were to die. The Five Wishes workbook is targeted at an aging generation; however, it is a helpful resource for anyone who wants to put instructions in place before a medical emergency or death. Make sure estate documents are in place so that you are cared for according to your desires, and so that loved ones have guidance during a difficult time.
This post was written by SaveUp’s personal finance contributing writer, Catherine Hawley, CFP®.
Image source: NPR