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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

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A creative way of dealing with estate and end-of-life planning

Few of us are comfortable talking about our own death or the deaths of loved ones. This simple fact makes estate planning a difficult topic to bring up in conversation, and an even more difficult topic for extended conversation and planning. However, as difficult as these conversations are for many of us, in some cultures this type of talk is almost unheard of.

A recent news article discussed this phenomenon among the Navajo Nation in Arizona. In Navajo culture, death is not discussed among people because of the belief that talking about it invites death. Moreover, people generally do not talk about those that have died and only certain members of a tribe will touch the dead or deal with burials.

These cultural attitudes surrounding death naturally make in extremely difficult to talk about important issues such as living wills, health care directives, powers of attorney, and the like. However, members of a home-based care program have come up with creative ways of bringing up these issues with the elderly and ill Navajo patients they serve.

The answer has been to use a simple poem dealing with end-of-life questions. The group uses the poem to introduce the topics and help foster a conversation about the available options. The program has proven to remarkably effective and has helped a number of people access estate planning information where they never would have in the past.

If you are interested in creating or updating any of your estate planning documents, you should speak with an attorney. These documents can usually be tailored to fit your specific needs, but they can be complicated, so it is best to have the help of an experienced hand.

Source: The New York Times, With poem, broaching the topic of death, Ben Daitz 1/24/11

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