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Achieving Your Final Wishes

Procrastinating end-of-life decisions is very common. They come with uncomfortable thoughts and choices. However, elder law attorneys make it easier by directing the conversation to the perspective of family members instead. Then you have the opportunity to control the situation, leaving them with the love and support they need at a challenging time.

Accidents and illness are unexpected, so the sooner you make end-of-life preparations, the better. It starts with a strategic plan to evaluate your estate, inventory assets, determine beneficiaries, and how the estate is administered after death. Some decisions will be easy while others will take more consideration. Your estate planning attorney will bring up situations you haven’t thought about and offer ideas and options that ensure you have trusted individuals making financial decisions when you are unable. They may also carry out health care instructions, directing medical professionals on acceptable treatments and levels of care. With these details clearly defined, your family members don’t have to struggle with end-of-life decisions.

What If You Don’t Have a Plan?

Debbie is a retired teacher living alone. Her family lives out of state, so there is no one nearby to help as her health progressively declines. Eventually, it is too difficult to do daily tasks, and she moves into assisted living, where she has a stroke that leads to a coma. Her family is contacted by medical staff, and they want to know how to proceed. Should they keep Debbie on life support and long-term care services? Does she have any insurance or savings in place to continue care? The family is emotionally distraught and isn’t sure where to find any insurance or financial paperwork. Worse yet, they don’t know if Debbie wanted any extraordinary measures to keep her alive in the event of a coma.

If you or your loved one have not documented end-of-life preparations, family members will have to struggle to find answers, sorting through belongings in your home, looking for online accounts, and making phone calls to verify information. This makes the grieving process longer, resulting in situations you never intended.

Elder Law and Estate Planning

An elder law attorney creates a strategic plan that considers potential in-home care and nursing home needs and how to pay for them. They discuss living wills and advanced health care directives that can instruct family members if you become incapacitated, including types of treatment and life-saving measures. A list of assets and bank accounts can be accessible to a named executor with answers to critical questions.

Your Will

A key document in your estate plan is a will. It allows you to specify where your money and possessions should go after you pass. It also allows you to choose an executor to manage the estate, pay debts, and distribute property as specified. It only takes effect when you die and must go through probate.

Living Trusts

A living trust does everything a will can do but also allows you to choose someone to manage your assets if you become incapacitated during your lifetime. A living trust also provides privacy, as it is not subject to public probate court proceedings.

Living Wills and Health Care Power of Attorney

A living will specifies your wishes for end-of-life medical care. You can indicate whether you want to be kept alive by artificial means in a terminal condition. A health care power of attorney allows someone to make health care decisions for you if you aren’t able. Both of these documents can be carefully crafted to address unique situations.

Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney names an agent to handle finances on your behalf. They can open and close bank accounts, write checks, and sell a property depending on the authority you give them. Be sure all your assets and finances are accurately documented.

Having an estate plan is necessary if you want control over what happens when you become sick or incapacitated and determine who receives your assets and belongings after death. An estate plan also helps family members deal with the estate quickly and easily.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please contact our Albany office today at (518) 452-6979 and schedule a consultation.

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