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Joan Rivers' death is an example of successful estate planning

It may not surprise some Massachusetts residents that Joan Rivers knew for some time that her life was coming to an end. In anticipation of that fact, she engaged in estate planning that not only provided for her daughter and grandson, but also for herself. By executing an advance directive, Rivers' daughter was able to let her go in accordance with her wishes. 

Estate planning is not only about what will happen after a person's death, but also if he or she becomes incapacitated. An advance directive allows an individual to decide for him- or herself what life-saving treatments he or she wants -- or does not want -- ahead of time. Without one, family members may have to take valuable time and money going to court to receive the right to make health care decisions on behalf of a loved one.

Even when family members are in agreement, the process can take some time.  Confrontations among family will only cause further delays and cause irreparable damage to relationships. Further, there is no guarantee that the decisions made by the person appointed by the court will be in line with what the individual would have wanted.

Even when the initial estate planning process is over, that does not mean that the documents are put away and not viewed until they are needed. Massachusetts residents could go through numerous changes before they pass away or become incapacitated, and keeping them up-to-date is crucial.  For instance, not many people would want an ex-spouse making life and death health care decisions for them. Periodically reviewing the documents can ensure that does not happen.

Source: Forbes, "Joan Rivers Can Help With Difficult End-Of-Life Conversations", Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Sept. 10, 2014

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