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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

Your Best Donation

 

Many of us spend time and energy planning how we can age well and continue to live in our homes for the rest of our lives. We spend money on estate plans that will pass our bank accounts and property to family or to favorite charities and some of us set up elaborate trusts to take care of Fido after we die. However, each of us possesses a priceless asset - and far too few make plans for the passing of this unique gift. This asset is, of course, our body.

 

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor of California he was quoted as saying, "When you sign up as an organ donor you are armed with the power of saving up to eight lives." By simply filling out an organ donation form you put the wheels in motion to make a remarkable difference in the lives of many. Organ donor forms can be found at www.dmv.ca.gov or at the Department of Motor Vehicles Office. Once you have gone to your great reward why not give the gift of sight to someone who has lost their or provide hope to someone who is dying due to failing liver or kidney function?

Organ donation at death is not the only way to benefit others through donation. In 2010, California was the first state to establish a living donor registry for people who are willing to donate a kidney - during life - to a needy recipient. Now many living donor agencies have been formed worldwide. These organizations facilitate the donation of kidneys to either a known recipient or to a stranger in need. There are also "paired exchange" programs where, for instance, if my child needed a kidney but my own organ is incompatible, organizations such as the National Kidney Registry will find another family in a similar situation and I could donate my kidney to that family member and their family could donate to my child. Awesome!

 

Finally, if organ donation at death or a living donation is not right for you, how about a whole body donation or "willing your body" to a university or medical research facility? The gift of your body upon death will provide medical students and surgeons an opportunity to practice and perfect their technique - long before entering an actual surgery center. Also, your body can be used for critical research aimed at improving the lived of future generations.

 

If you are interested in contributing your body to a university or other research facility make arrangements ahead of time. Kellie Morgantini, Executive Director for Legal Services for Seniors in Seaside (899-0492) and Salinas (442-7700), says there are certain things to consider when donating your body. "Forms must be completed and properly witnessed and arrangements must be made to notify the university immediately on death. Also, the body will not be returned after the research has been completed so appropriate expectations should be set with family members." In addition to other services, Legal Services for Seniors will help seniors complete the necessary documentation for body donation.

 

Whether through organ donation or willing your body to science - your body is a gift. Consider sharing this gift with others when you no longer need it.

 

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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