Seminar offers guidelines on estate planning, end of life issues

By | October 21, 2009

Because of that “only 37 percent of those who are eligible for hospice are in it,” she said.

“Hospice is not a place, but a philosophy,” said Sr. Ruth, who has 50 hospice patients to whom she offers spiritual support. “It’s designed to provide comfort and support at the last stage of life.”

Joan Wetzel shared how hospice helped her bring her 90-year-old father into her home for the last five days of his life. “Hospice was wonderful,” she said. “All the people who wanted to say good-bye to Dad were able to do so and they came to my home.”

Deacon Paul Umentum, a Green Bay attorney from a company of estate planning lawyers, addressed estate planning, which he said “is more than just a will. A will goes into effect when you die. All of us should have three documents.” These are:

• A Health Care Power of Attorney, which provides an agent to make your health care decisions when you are declared incompetent,

• A Financial Power of Attorney, which can be the same person as above, who handles your financial concerns when you cannot; and

• A will.

The first two documents are also called “advanced directives.” Each, Deacon Umentum said, can become very detailed and he advised seeking help to prepare them. That help can be from an attorney, medical offices or the pastoral care departments in health care facilities. He said the health care power of attorney is more detailed than what is sometimes called “a living will,” which usually only addresses end of life decisions.

He said his own health care power of attorney is 18 pages long, with very detailed information about potential health care decisions, as well as directions on how to deal with health care providers.

Fr. Richard Klingeisen, diocesan consultant for medical ethics, who also served for 26 years as chaplain at Holy Family Memorial Medical Center in Manitowoc, spoke about end-of-life decisions. He advised his audience to make certain that the person they give their health care power of attorney to “is someone who shares your faith beliefs.”

He said the church’s teachings about end of life decisions are based on Scripture and Catholic social teaching.

“Jesus becomes the model of good health care decision making,” he said, adding that the church’s position on the dignity of human life guides us on “how to reach out to those we are empowered to care for.”

Charlotte Luebke attended the workshop “mainly for the church teaching and to hear how they feel about the end-of-life.” She said she was comforted to learn that “God decides in the end, because there is so much more to think about than when my parents were old.”

Bonnie Grall said the workshop reassured her that “we are stewards of our bodies.” She said that, even with all the information and choices out there about health care, “if you go to your heart space, where God is, it will never lead you wrong.”

The Financial Freedom Day was sponsored by the St. Thomas More Health and Wellness Commission, in fellowship with St. Pius X and St. Therese parishes. Similar health and wellness events will be planned annually.

Allan Prahl, education manager from FISC, spoke about budget counseling. He answered many questions and concerns about changes in credit cards lately and how to deal responsibly, even biblically, with debt.

Chris Rosenbaum, St. Thomas More’s parish nurse, said the parish had wanted to offer a health fair, but then decided to add the spiritual dimension and “it turned into more of a day of education and fellowship.”

“We had people visit from other churches, see it in the bulletin and call in because they wanted to be part of this,” she said. “So there are a lot of people out there needing this.”

More than 60 people signed up for the day, which also offered a free dinner. It was paid for through the parish’s memorial grant fund.

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