Ask Benny: I want to write a living will—who can help?

Dear Benny,
The recent media coverage of the Terry Schiavo case has started me thinking about living wills—and whether I should prepare one. The problem is, I don’t even know where to begin. I have read some human resources departments can offer living will services, however, and was wondering if Penn was one of them.
—-Seeking Help

Dear Good Planning,
You’re not the only one here at Penn that has been asking that question.

According to Terri Ryan, manager of strategic communications in Penn’s Division of Human Resources, several Penn staffers have called the department recently seeking help in preparing a living will. Unfortunately, Ryan said, HR does not offer that service. But don’t fret. With just a little legwork, you can probably find answers to most of your questions rather simply, either online or by dialing up some local experts.

One Penn resource worth checking out is the Department of Legal Services health care rights guide, which you can find at www.uphs.upenn.edu/legal/adv.html. There, you’ll find useful information about not only living wills, but also advanced directives, power of attorney for health care and other issues. You’ll also be able to check out a sample living will. The guide is a simple, easy-to-understand guide to the basics of health care rights, and is definitely worth reading.

For more information, you can contact one of several offices that can guide you through the process of preparing your own living will. Try the Pennsylvania Department of Aging at 717-783-1550, the Pennsylvania Council on Aging at 717-783-1924 or the state’s AARP chapter at 866-389-5654.

Originally published on April 14, 2005