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Estate planning is essential to long-term care

More than likely, Massachusetts residents do not want to think about a time when they may be unable to deal with day-to-day tasks alone. Even so, as the age of the country's population increases, the probability of needing long-term care is also increasing. Further, no one can predict when an accident or illness will prevent him or her from making decisions. Therefore, it would be beneficial to plan for this eventuality, and estate planning is essential to this process. 

Without the proper documentation in place, vital medical care could be delayed while family members attempt to obtain the right to make decisions on your behalf and/or ascertain what you would want done. Advance directives let loved ones know what types of life-saving and end-of-life treatments an individual does -- and does not -- want. A health care power of attorney appoints a trusted person to carry out those wishes when the individual is unable to do so.

It would also be a good idea to fill out a HIPAA release form to eliminate the possibility that the person named to handle a Massachusetts resident's health care decisions will not be able to deal with medical insurance representatives. Financial matters will also need to be dealt with by someone if the individual is incapacitated. A durable power of attorney allows a trusted person or persons to do just that.

Long term care is not always permanent, depending on the situation, but it could last for a significant amount of time. Using estate planning to ensure that someone is able to step in on an individual's behalf with a minimum of disruption to health care and financial matters is essential. If the individual recovers, he or she can resume handling matters along. If the condition is permanent, someone will make sure that his or her wishes are carried out as specified.

Source: csmonitor.com, "Ten keys to proper estate planning", Michael Chamberlain, March 14, 2016

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