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There is more to estate planning than just a will

Some Massachusetts residents are under the impression that if they have a will, they have done what they can to protect themselves and their families. However, there is more to estate planning than just wills. Other documents are needed to protect people in the event that they become incapacitated.

If an individual becomes unable to make decisions for him or herself due to an illness or injury, someone will need to step in and handle health and financial matters during that time. Without powers of attorney for health care and finances, family members will often need to go to court in order to obtain the right to act on behalf of an incapacitated loved one. Having to do so could cause significant delays that could ultimately cause harm to the individual.

When advance directives accompany a health care power of attorney, the agent appointed will have some guidelines as to what the individual would want in certain situations. It would also be beneficial to discuss these issues with the person who would be making these decisions if needed. Appointing someone who is like-minded when it comes to health and monetary issues would be helpful as well. Trusts are another important estate-planning document that can help provide for the individual during life and for beneficiaries after death.

Estate planning is often able to accommodate the unique circumstances of nearly every family. Depending on what a Massachusetts resident wants to accomplish, an estate plan can be devised that will ensure that his or her wishes are expressed and other financial goals are met. Doing so could provide the individual and family members peace of mind.

Source: lakeconews.com, "Estate Planning: Planning for how to address incapacity issues", Dennis Fordham, Oct. 1, 2016

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