Jennifer C. Rydberg, Attorney at Law
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Long term care: preparing for the inevitable

The end of life and how people die has changed greatly. Because of medical advances, many people in Washington seek the guidance of doctors who can treat the injury or illness the person is suffering from, leading to a longer lifespan. This has made planning for the future and end-of life-issues more complicated and important to deal with.

A power of attorney and a living will are important documents for any person's age. A power of attorney authorizes a person to make decisions once they incapacitated. Different but trusted people may be authorized to deal with financial and medical care.

If there is no one who will take on the power of attorney responsibility, a guardianship petition can be filed with the court. An appointed guardian can also make health care decisions and conservator may have responsibility over financial matters and asset protection.

A living will or a declaration memorializes a person's intent regarding life support when the person is afflicted with a terminal or incurable disease or injury. This helps ensure that the person's wishes are carried out during an emotional time.

Creation of an estate plan with a will governs who will care for their child and their assets if both parents die before the child is grown. Attention should be devoted to addressing caring for children with special needs.

Parents with children who left home may wish to set up a trust. A successor trustee may assume responsibility for bills and other tasks when the person is still alive. The trustee can also help determine how assets are distributed after death.

Wills may also be drafted to incorporate a separate list of items, especially sentimental items, that may designated to specific family members and friends. This list may be changed relatively easily.

These legal documents should be reviewed every few years. Estate beneficiaries or who assumes child custody may need to be changed.

It is important to keep these documents organized and accessible to family members, accountants and attorneys. This also applies to other important items such as bank account lists, recent tax returns, property deeds, titles to vehicles and information for contacting family members.

An attorney can provide assistance in drafting these documents. Moreover, an attorney can see to it that these plans are carried out.

Source: McPherson Sentinel, "Preparation: Getting your affairs in order," Patricia Middleton, May 8, 2017

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