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Frank Kameny

Frank Kameny, DC Gay Civil Rights Activist

Time to Tune-Up Your Personal Papers

Alan D.

February 2008

About this time every year scores of articles appear advising on what financial records to keep and how long to keep them. Now is also the time to check out and, if need be, tune up your personal directives including wills, trusts, health care power of attorney and living will.

If you haven’t completed any of these, do it now. if you don’t have an attorney check out the state or District of Columbia bar association and look for a listing of elder law attorneys. If you have already filed these documents, do they still reflect your wishes and does your family, your partner, your friends, and your doctor know where these documents are located? If you are not familiar with these documents here is a quick guide:

Health Care Power of Attorney: this designates the person you wish to carry out health care decisions in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.

Living Will: this designates the kind and duration of medical decisions you wish to have made, again in the event that you are not able to speak for yourself.

Talked all of this over already with your partner or family but you still have not filed any documents? A dimly remembered conversation overlaid with the shock of having to make unfamiliar decisions is a pretty sure guarantee that your wishes may not be followed.

Want more information? Check out the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging web site at

Let’s make this even easier. April 16 was National Health Care Decision Day. To get involved and learn more about these documents log on here.

If you can’t afford a computer and an internet subscription go on down to your local library and use their internet computers.

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