I'd prefer water: How can I sever the ties of next of kinship?
March 4, 2013 12:30 AM   Subscribe

My family are terrible. I've recently, with the help of therapy and mortality staring me down, finally cut ties to their toxic presence. How can I make sure that they're never legally or otherwise involved in my life again? In the US, married, very ill.

My family denies that I'm legitimately disabled (while also believing that I should not be treated for my pain). On a feeding tube and in a power wheelchair, I've finally lost patience and cut them off -- I need to focus on getting better (or, more accurately, not getting worse) full time right now. I have a living will and durable power of attorney that designates my husband as the person to make medical decisions for me (with a friend named second if my husband is not available). My husband is also the executor of my will (though I have little in the way of assets). All these say in no uncertain terms that my family is never to be notified or to make decisions on my behalf. I used Rocket Lawyer to make them.

Have I missed anything, in legally separating myself from anything where next of kinship might leave my family able to be notified of my location, condition or (worst) to make decisions about me? What if both my husband and the friend were unable to make decisions for me (the hypothetical car accident we all get into together)? What options might exist beyond the cobbled together Power of Attorney + Living Will + Will (is adult adoption still done)? Is the Rocket Lawyer documentation enough? What pitfalls could I encounter just using those documents? I live in Washington (state).

If I need to see a lawyer, what sort of lawyer do I need to see? YANML, of course.
posted by sweltering to Law & Government (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a lawyer, so this would be more for peace of mind than for legally binding action, but I would write a letter to whom it may concern that clearly states your intention as you have here and that asks if your husband and friend cannot for any reason fulfill their duties that a public advocate be named to decide your affairs and medical decisions and NOT YOUR FAMILY other than your husband. I would have it notarized and I would carry it with me at all times.

The more people that know your wishes, the better chance someone steps in and tries to keep your family out of it.

Good luck fighting your illness.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:16 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

IANAL either. It really sounds like you need one: look for an estate planning lawyer. I have a very similar family situation (right down to them thinking I deserve to die because I'm ill but then they deny I'm ill and say I'm making it up to get attention, whee -.-; ), and the peace of mind you would get from being absolutely certain that your papers are all in order would, I'm sure, be well worth a professional consultation.
posted by fraula at 1:25 AM on March 4, 2013

I agree that in your situation getting a lawyer might be a good idea. If you are short on funds, just spring for an hour or two consultation, and that will help you decide where you want to focus your time and money when drawing up the legal documents.

Spouses are almost always counted as next of kin. You just want to be sure you don't have blood family rearing their ugly heads if your spouse is not around.

"Living Wills" are now called "Health Care Advanced Directives" in many states and are routinely available to download from the internet - you don't need a lawyer for those. They are easy to get and sign; the hard part is being sure that whoever you designate as your proxy can actually advocate for you. The person you want as your advocate might not be your closest friend, it is someone who you trust to respect your wishes AND to be assertive with health care personnel and bureaucracies (this latter is the hardest part! Much harder than respecting wishes, believe me!).

tl;dr: Have the necessary paperwork in place (a lawyer can help) and be sure there is someone who will push to make your wishes known and respected. If your closest friend is not your most assertive friend, you might want to talk with your most assertive friend to see if s/he would be willing to be your proxy.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:19 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not specifically about your actual documents for what you need now, and not necessarily about the worst-case scenario for you (and I wish you the best for your health, and understand completely about ditching a toxic family) -- but did you see the post about "Get Your Shit Together" on the blue? There were great links in the post, and in the comments, some advice about keeping the paperwork accessible and noting other little loose ends to tie up. Everplans, which was mentioned, has a section on creating an Advance Health Care Directive.
posted by peagood at 5:58 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

If there is a hospital where you are known (received care in the past, would likely be a patient there in the future), talk to their social worker. They have dealt with this before and can set things up to protect your wishes and your privacy.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:04 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you need to clarify if the family you are talking about are siblings, parents, offspring or more distant.

Advice is different depending on this.
posted by taff at 9:10 AM on March 4, 2013

Parents, siblings, and more extended family (aunts and uncles). No offspring! Thanks for all the great answers so far! I'm sorry so many people are in similar boats.
posted by sweltering at 11:02 AM on March 4, 2013

if possible, make a video of yourself saying what you want and why? it's easy to want to contest a piece of paper, but having video of you discussing your directives might add just that bit more of force (even if it's just emotional, and it might well be more than that) to your directives.
posted by lia at 12:20 PM on March 4, 2013

I searched for "legally sever ties to parents" and found this:

Discussion elsewhere

I tried several other phrases earlier in the day and got nothing. That seems to be the phrase to start with.

I would try to make sure they don't have my phone number, etc, if possible.
posted by Michele in California at 8:12 PM on March 4, 2013

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