Importance of planning before incapacity or illnesses

According to the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, over 120 million Americans do not have updated estate plans or any long-term financial plans. And while this may not be quite as much of an issue for young people, it certainly is a big issue for seniors. While nobody likes to think about and plan for death or serious illness, estate planning is best done before it is actually necessary.

Seniors do well to be proactive in their approach to estate planning. This especially includes taking steps to protect assets and create an advance health care directive. Another reason to plan before illness or incapacity set in is that you may simply not be prepared to deal with it financially.

According to a recent study by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, nearly half of patients are forced to use all their savings on health care, 49 percent have to borrow money to pay for prescriptions, 30 percent don't fill medication, and 20 percent take less medication than their doctor recommends.

Those who struggle with chronic conditions have ample reason to do estate planning around such matters. Whether it means modifying trustee provisions, modifying a living will or health care proxy, or modifying a durable power of attorney, there are a number of ways those suffering with chronic illnesses can make their estate plan reflect the needs of their illness.

Failing to plan for such things before they happen can force elderly persons to compromise their savings, health, and their quality of life.

Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning For Seniors Should Be Done Before a Life-Changing Event," Bernard A. Krooks, October 19, 2011.

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