When Someone Dies

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Chapter 1: As Death Approaches
Checklist:
• Who's in charge before the death?
• Does the person have an advance medical directive, also called a durable power of attorney for health care?
• If the person prepared an advance directive/durable power of attorney for health care...
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Who gets to keep Mom’s jewelry?
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Important legal information

Chapter: As Death Approaches

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Important legal information
A
People are afraid of death in the United States and they treat it like a contagious disease. It is not. Your friend needs help in many ways. You might go water her garden. Take her pets to your house. Bring food to the house. Maybe house sit for her. Also, if she is staying bedside at the hospice, you might bring her a change of clothes, some books and magazines. Go sit with her and talk. Let her talk. She will tell you if she needs privacy. Most people think that they are intruding. In most cases, you are not, and your presence is a great relief to the monotony and sadness that occurs when we watch someone die. I recommend doing anything and everything that occurs to you. Most people will let you know if they need privacy.
A
The quick answer is ‘no.’ You can repose the power of attorney in anyone of competent mind, and it does not matter whether you have a relationship to that person. Where things get ugly, however, is after your death where in most states they do not recognize ‘common law’ marriage (or gay marriage) ALL of your partner’s rights expire and your executor named in your will or appointed by virtue of state law and your beneficiaries have sole power. Your live in partner has no rights unless she is appointed your executor or heir.
A
I think the Green Burial Council is right. This has been an ever-changing field as 'green' becomes more and more important to people. I am told by United Air Lines that they will accept any body for shipping provided the funeral home certifies it is suitable for shipping. I will check with other airlines, but I suspect if the funeral home is willing to deliver the body then the airline will ship it. Best, and stay tuned.
A
First, Mom is not qualified to be executor. Technically, you should follow the will, which likely specifies who becomes executor if first one fails. You would become the new executor by attestation to the court or to people. You can use your power of attorney to act instead of Mom but there are issues with that since in most cases the Power of Attorney ‘may’ no longer be valid since Mom is incompetent. Here is an interesting truth. No one is going to check on things if you use the power of attorney. And, yes, you can access Dad’s money for care and other things. However, I would strongly recommend that you become the new executor citing Mom’s incompetence. A lawyer can help prepare the ‘successor trustee or executor’ form for you.
A
If the will has been signed, you do not need to work with the current lawyer. You can take an original and give it to another lawyer for administration. If the will is in draft form, then you can do pretty much anything you want, including working with a new lawyer. However, since it is your parent’s will, until they die, they, not you, have absolute and sole control over the will and who drafts and stores it, etc.