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Assisting elderly parents with estate planning

Over the holidays, many Massachusetts families might have had difficult conversations with their elderly parents regarding whether they are prepared for a time when their parents may become incapacitated or pass away. Now that those conversations have occurred, it might be possible to help them find the assistance they will need with estate planning. Depending on the circumstances, the elderly parents might need several different documents in order to protect themselves, their heirs and their estates.

As the age of the population rises, so does the possibility that more people will need some sort of assisted living or nursing home care. The expense involved will require some planning to afford these things when the time comes. Along with the possibility of alternative housing comes the potential of losing the mental capacity to handles one's affairs. Powers of attorney for both health care and finances can help transfer decision-making authority if it becomes necessary.

As for the disposition of assets upon death, whether a will is sufficient depends on the circumstances. Some of Massachusetts' elderly residents may decide that one or more trusts are necessary in order to distribute their estates in the manner in which they desire. There are numerous ways to construct an estate plan, depending on the needs and wishes of the individual.

Without appropriate estate planning, family members will be required to go to court in order to obtain the authority to act -- regardless of whether an individual is incapacitated or deceased. In addition, the wishes of the individual may not be carried out as intended. Families can assist their elderly members in finding the appropriate help in order to create an estate plan, though the final decisions belong to them.

Source: coastalcourier.com, "Use holidays to talk about estate planning, long-term care", Mike Smith, Dec. 16, 2015

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