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How to raise the issue of estate planning

When family members begin to get older, it might be time to consider having a discussion about what they want to happen should they encounter health problems in the future. This allows the person to express their wishes about the care that they should receive, which can make things much easier for their families.

While these plans can remove a lot of uncertainty regarding an individual's final wishes, it can be a difficult subject to discuss. Making wills and other estate planning documents such as a trust or living will may make the person feel like they do not have a lot of time left. This could lead them to being afraid to discuss these matters, instead putting it off until it becomes too late.

As people age, there is the potential that they could acquire an injury or illness that leaves them mentally incapacitated. This means that they are unable to make decisions concerning health care or how they wish to distribute their assets after they pass away.

Individuals should appoint one person, along with a backup, to be in charge of making healthcare decisions. This prevents families from fighting over the type of care that a person should receive. Make sure to discuss this with individuals prior to naming them on these documents, so that they understand and accept the responsibilities that have been designated to them.

People are often concerned that estate planning can be a very complicated process. For individuals with significant assets, it is necessary to create a comprehensive plan that reflects their desires. This can take some time to ensure that all of the property is being distributed in the appropriate manner, but without these plans in place, property passes according to the probate laws.

Those individuals considering making an estate plan may wish to speak to an experienced attorney. An attorney can help design a will or trust that allows all property to pass to the intended beneficiaries, and allows the individual to know that his or her healthcare concerns will be addressed, if necessary.

Source: CBS Boston, "Helping Dad with estate planning," Dee Lee, June 14, 2013. 

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