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National Donate Life Month: Considering organ donation

During estate planning, you often concentrate on external assets such as cash, real estate or family heirlooms. In the past, we've talked about the importance of considering everything you leave behind, which might include creative or intellectual assets. One other thing you have to give is yourself -- specifically, your body. April is National Donate Life Month, which is a great time to consider whether you might want to be an organ donor or not.

One of the reasons that many people avoid signing up to be an organ donor is that they buy into some myths about the subject. For example, many people believe that if they are on the organ donor list, then medical staff might not work as hard to save their lives. The thinking on this comes from a misconception that doctors and nurses might look at organs as more valuable than the person. While it's true that your organs can save other lives, medical professionals who are treating you are concerned with you.

Some people also think that organ donation might impact end-of-life celebration plans. One myth about organ donation is that you can't have an open casket funeral afterward, which is often important for grieving families. The truth is that no signs of organ donation are typically visible during an open casket funeral.

Finally, you might not think you would qualify for organ donation if you're experience your own serious health issues. While some health conditions do make it impossible to donate organs, those conditions are the exception. Even if you have an issue with one or more organs, your other organs could be healthy and able to save the lives of others.

Whether or not you want to donate your organs is a personal decision. If you are considering taking such a step, talk to your estate planning attorney about how to incorporate such a decision into your legal documents.

Source: Donate Life America, "National Donate Life Month," accessed April 07, 2017

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