Your legacy when you die may involve many different considerations. Some people want to support their children and grandchildren, while others want to give money to charitable organizations. Maybe you don’t have many financial resources to pass on to others, or perhaps you want to keep those assets in your family while still doing something good for the world around you.
For some people, an anatomical gift will be an important part of their legacy. If you intend to leave an anatomical gift after you die, you will need to plan carefully.
There are two typical forms of anatomical gifts
Some people who have unusual medical conditions or who belong to certain subsets of the population understand that their entire body has scientific value. Some individuals will donate their corpses to medical research at a specific facility or educational institution.
The other common type of anatomical gift made in someone’s estate plan is organ or tissue donation. Medical professionals can harvest different human tissues and organs, ranging from hearts and livers to corneas and even portions of someone’s skin. Those organs and tissues can then play a key role in providing someone else with life-saving or life-enhancing medical support.
Although some people think that such gifts are only possible when you are young, that is not true. In fact, the National Institute on Aging reports that one in three donated organs in 2021 came from someone over the age of 50. What matters most is that you leave clear written instructions for your loved ones and, if necessary, advise the educational or medical institutions involved of your wishes.
Families often feel unsure about anatomical gifts
While you may feel like you have made your feelings on the matter very clear over the years, your family may not remember those conversations as clearly as you do. If you leave the decision to them, they may not recall properly and could make a choice that reduces your final legacy because they decide against making an anatomical gift after your death.
When you make your wishes clear in writing, you not only take the pressure off of your loved ones when you die, but you also empower the representative of your estate to carry out those wishes in a timely manner so that your anatomical gift has the greatest possible impact. Thinking critically about your various legacy goals can help you put the right estate planning documents in place to leave the exact legacy you intend.