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Pre-planning essential to avoid problems should incapacity occur

All of us want to make certain that our wishes are carried out when we are no longer able to make those determinations for ourselves. Though we may have children or other relatives we depend upon to make those determinations for us, there are times when these individuals may not be up for such a duty.

Deciding upon someone who can continually advocate for you may be one of the most important decisions we make when it comes to estate planning. This is especially true when it comes to health care issues and financial matters.

Concerning health care issues, we wish to make certain that the person we choose to make decisions understands our desires and can be trusted to make the right choices. There are certain treatments we may not wish to undergo in the event that we are incapacitated. We may or may not wish to be resuscitated under certain circumstances. We may also wish to make clear where we would like to stay in the event of a long illness.

When it comes to financial matters we need to make certain that any advocate we choose knows the kind of assets and debts that are contained within the estate. We also must make certain that such a person has access to all relevant estate planning documents including all legal papers.

Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of all of the steps that we should take and therefore it may be helpful to seek legal advice when it comes to possible incapacity. Attorneys can assist with pre-mortem planning, decisions concerning guardianships or personal representatives, income and gift tax advice and the organization of records.

Source: Financial News & Daily Record, "Bar Bulletin: The beginning of end-of-life planning," Mike Jorgensen, June 2, 2014

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