Over the Christmas break, I was catching up on Billions on NowTv. One particular scene in struck me as great illustration of the need to prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney as part of any estate plan and to have open and honest discussions with those you want to act on your behalf.
Let me take you to Series 5, episode 8. A scene where Chuck Senior, dying of kidney failure, discusses appointing his (soon to be ex) daughter-in-law Wendy as his ‘Healthcare Proxy’ (similar to a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Care in England).
Chuck Senior has made up his mind that when the time comes, he wants his life support machine turning off. His new wife Roxanne will be too misty-eyed and keep the machine on too long, whereas his son Chuck might be a bit too eager to switch the machine off prematurely. Wendy, however, is clear minded and would do what he thinks is necessary:
Wendy – What do you want?
Chuck Senior – This.
Wendy – Phew. Healthcare proxy? Why me?
Chuck Senior – Because Roxanne’s too young. She’ll never let me go. She will keep the machines on for years, hoping for a miracle while I crap myself and the money runs out. And Chuck, he might pull the plug when I’m in the middle of a sentence.
Wendy – He’s doing everything he can to help you.
Chuck Senior – Sure, he is. But you, you’re the one with liquid silver in her veins, the cool-headed killer. You’ll do the right thing at the right time.
Wendy – At the “right time,” you’ll be comatose, completely incommunicative, and you want me to come in waving this around in front of your young wife and son? It’ll be a total sh*t show.
Chuck Senior – That’s why I’m asking you. No, I… I pray, to the extent that I pray, that these decisions never need be made. But… if the worst comes to pass, Wendy… if I hit the f*cking wall and become a full gomer, I need you to be clear-eyed and punch my ticket. Can I count on you?
Wendy – Sure, Dad. If it comes to it, I’ll put you down.
Chuck Senior – That’s a good girl.
Whilst the frankness of the discussion obviously makes for great TV, in reality I suspect very few people really think through who they would want to make such a difficult decision as turning off their life support and why.
Even those that do make a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Care decisions (which requires you to choose whether to give your Attorney(s) the power to make such decisions), how many people actually consider who would be best for the job and then make it clear what they would want to happen if they could make the decision themselves? Not many.
It was great to see Chuck Senior leading by example with his carefully thought-out estate planning.