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Meinzer Law Firm, PC

Many forego a health care directive when estate planning

A lot of estate planning is focused on distributing wealth upon an individual's passing. While this is certainly a significant portion of the estate planning process and there are a number of legal vehicles through which to achieve this, there are other matters that are of critical importance when creating an estate plan. One of them is long-term care planning, which often comprises of Medicaid planning and considering long-term care insurance. Yet, there is another issue that far too often goes overlooked during estate planning: health care decisions when incapacitated.

It's a scary situation to think about, but many individuals in California wind up unable to make their own health care decisions due to incapacity. This can create a whole host of complications, and ultimately the decisions made may go against what an individual would want if he or she were able to make these decisions him or herself.

Fortunately, these types of situations can be avoided by creating a health care directive. Here, an individual can lay out instructions for medical decisions in the event of illness or incapacitation. It can also address how one's body should be dealt with after death.

Sadly, one study found that only one-third of Americans have a health care directive. This means that a significant number of individuals are leaving their care up in the air with no guidance being given to their loved ones. This is unfair to everyone involved. So, those who want to retain some sort of control over these matters should seriously consider creating one of these legal documents.

Like all estate planning documents, though, the health care directive needs to be carefully drafted to avoid any unwanted and unintended consequences. The good news is that, with professional guidance, one can carefully create one of these legal vehicles as part of a holistic estate plan. This can put an individual's mind at ease and ensure that all matters pertaining to late-in-life decisions, both health care and financially-related, along with estate distribution preferences are settled in accordance with his or her wishes.

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