Pictured above From left to right: Laura Macho, Sasha Greene, Lonnie Stewart, and Michael F. Carullo

We understand: this was a morbid title for a panel discussion (“Everything You Wanted to Know About Dying in Your Apartment but Were Afraid to Ask”). However, we believe in living for today and planning well for tomorrow. A Will, an Advance Directive, and a Healthcare Proxy are only the beginning. There are considerations for being prepared to die the way you wish, and having your remains handled the way you want to – with the knowledge that not everything necessarily goes as planned (you might die on holiday abroad!). The more we can state our wishes and plan ahead of time, the more piece of mind.

There was a lot of discussion over a range of topics and a record turn-out for our lecture series. The panel included Social Worker, Sasha Greene, and Funeral Directors from Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, Laura Macho and Michael F. Carullo. We summarize below the most important points of the evening. If you have other observations not mentioned here, feel free to leave a comment below.

1. In New York State you can explicitly designate who will be in charge of your body and your funeral arrangements (separate from the Executor of your Will) by completing an “Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains.” Obtain that document through this link to the New York State Department of Health.

2. If you wish to die at home, it is essential you work with a geriatric case manager (usually a private Licensed Social Worker) or a home care agency to get care delivered in your home at the end of life. The case manager can help you understand the costs involved and depending on your condition you may qualify for hospice care (ordered by an MD, typically if they determine you have 6 months or less to live). When you die, you avoid calling 911 when you have home care/hospice. A medical doctor certifies your death, and the funeral home can take charge from there. BUT…

3. It is essential that before you work with a home care agency you ask them their process if you die. Many agencies tell their aides to call 9-1-1, in which case authorities seal your apartment until your Will gets through probate (this can take several months unless your apartment is part of a revocable trust). The agency should be directed to call the next of kin, or the Nurse Practitioner who is working with you. They can arrange for an MD to certify your death and the funeral home can claim your body.

4. Pre-planning your funeral can save time, grief, and money. Any licensed Funeral Director can help you determine the costs involved, and you can shop around without obligation. Licensed Funeral Directors are highly-regulated in New York State to protect you from fraud and abuse. You can walk into any funeral home and discuss options and costs without penalty.

5. A Licensed Funeral Director is a good person to know (if not an excellent geriatric case manager as well). A funeral director knows how to get through complicated red tape (example: if you die on your river cruise on the Danube, the funeral director knows how to get your body back to the United States).

6. Choosing a hospice agency. This document has some guidelines to screen for hospice services. Hospice is typically ordered through an MD who determines that you have less than 6 months to live.

Choosing_a_Hospice

7. Funeral checklists. Here are two funeral checklists sent to us from Laura Macho and contain some helpful information fo you and your loved ones.

Funeral_Checklist_1

Funeral_Checklist_2

We hope that this information is useful for you and perhaps spurs further discussion. If you would like to have more events like these, please send a note to n2n.greenwich.village@gmail.com and give us your ideas!

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