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Family members benefit from a loved one's estate planning

Most Massachusetts residents are already aware of the benefits they receive by creating an estate plan. The benefits are not only for the person doing the estate planning but also for that person's family members. The more comprehensive the plan, the less work family members may have to do if a relative becomes incapacitated or passes away.

Serious accidents and illnesses do not discriminate by age or gender. If either of these events should happen, family members will need to be able to take care of a relative's assets and make health care decisions on his or her behalf. If the appropriate documents are not in place, it will be necessary to go to the courts to obtain permission to act, which many would consider a waste of time and resources.

Durable powers of attorney give family members the right to conduct a person's financial affairs. A health care power of attorney, as the name implies, allows someone to make decisions regarding medical care. These documents can be as limited or broad as the creator feels is appropriate.

A living will can provide the health care agent with a record of the individual's wishes when it comes to end-of-life care and life-saving measures. A HIPPAA release will need to be included as well in order to avoid any possible roadblocks for the agent and medical personnel when it comes to discussing the particulars of the individual's medical condition. Wills and trusts are used to handle a Massachusetts resident's affairs after death.

A critical part of estate planning is that the individual retains control over what happens to his or her estate after death. These other documents do the same while he or she is still alive but unable to make these decisions. Family members will already have a great deal to process in the event of incapacitation or death, and helping them during this time is a legacy for which they will be thankful.

Source: wilmingtonbiz.com, "'Elder Law' Documents Are Important -- And Not Just For The Elderly", Susan Willett, June 1, 2015

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