FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-03-23
Anyone facing a chronic health problem or terminal illness can benefit immensely from a comprehensive estate plan. An estate plan can make your wishes clear in terms of the care you want to receive, who you would want to act on your behalf and almost anything else you would like to prearrange for a scenario in which you lose the ability to express your desires.
With a basic understanding of common estate planning tools, and the help of your Arizona estate planning attorney, you can focus on your health knowing that, should anything happen to you, your decisions will be respected.
A Diverse Estate Planning Tool Chest
Most individuals are familiar with a will — an estate planning tool that names someone to manage your estate and sets the terms for the transfer of property at death. However, many are unaware of how a trust may be used as a tool in an estate plan.
A revocable living trust is an estate planning tool that grants you control over your financial assets while you are alive, but also helps protect those assets after you are gone. In other words, trusts help ensure the property you have worked so hard for ends up where it belongs: with your heirs.
Property is one thing, but what about your decision-making authority? A general power of attorney can designate a person of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf about your financial or legal affairs should you become incapacitated.
For medical decisions— advance health care directives, medical powers of attorney and living wills are appropriate legal instruments. These documents can assign someone to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated, and describe the kinds of treatment you would or would not like to receive under specific circumstances.
Finally, every estate plan should take into account the government assistance programs you may — with a proper structuring of your assets — be eligible for. Sometimes known as Medicaid planning, this type of strategy for financing your long term care may save you and your family thousands.
Consult an Arizona Estate Planning Attorney
Everyone should have an estate plan, but if you are suffering from a long-term illness, it is especially important. Remember, should you lose your ability to communicate without an estate plan in place, there is no telling what direction your care and finances could take.