Donating your organs is clearly not the same as leaving your wedding china to your only granddaughter, but your wishes for what happens to your body after you die should be as clear in your Estate Plan as your wishes for family heirlooms. If you want your organs to be donated, if possible, upon your death, you need to take a few important steps now to make sure that happens.
First, Register as an Organ Donor
In both Texas and Arkansas, you can sign up to be an organ donor by filling out an online registration form. Organ donor organizations in both states maintain databases of donors that can be accessed by the hospital at the time of death. In both states, you also have the option to register when getting or renewing your driver’s license or personal ID card. In this case, your driver’s license will show that you are an organ donor. You can always remove your name from an organ donor registry if you change your mind or become ineligible.
Next, Tell Your Family
You don’t need anyone’s permission to register as an organ donor, and no one needs to know you have registered. But if you haven’t told anyone that you want to be a donor, there can be a great deal of chaos and confusion in the hospital if you become a candidate for donation. Even if you are registered, if a family member creates problems in the hospital, valuable time can be lost, and the opportunity to donate your organs could be missed. As important as it is to tell your closest family members that you are a registered organ donor, it is also important to put it in writing. As essential documents in any Estate Plan, you will want to include organ donation in your:
- Advance Healthcare Directive. Your Living Will gives instructions for life support and other extreme life-saving measures in certain emergency situations. It is also an opportunity for you to express your wishes to donate your organs.
- Healthcare Proxy or Power of Attorney. Better than a Living Will document is a Healthcare Power of Attorney. This is a person you have chosen to make medical decisions on your behalf. You should have a conversation with this person about organ donation when you first ask them to be your Healthcare Proxy. Ultimately, this is the person who will make medical decisions when you are unable, so they should know your wishes.
If organ donation is important to you, a combination of signing up with the organ donor registry in your state and including your wishes in your Estate Plan is the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed. If you have questions about creating a comprehensive Estate Plan in Texas or Arkansas, give us a call.