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    Make estate planning a priority

    submitted by Kim Cahill Yannuzzi, PCHA, LPN, The Birches at Newtown Personal Care and Memory Care, www.thebirchesatnewtown.com

    Many seniors haven’t completed their estate planning and often delay taking action until there’s an emergency. Waiting only places additional burdens on your loved ones during an already stressful situation.

    Proper estate planning can avoid conflict among your loved ones and ensure that your wishes are understood.    These are necessary documents you should have in place when estate planning:

    Power of Attorney (POA). Designates someone to have authority to perform specific legal acts, such as financial and health care decisions, if you are not able. There are many types of powers of attorney. Consult an attorney for specific legal advice. Individuals who do not designate a POA may be subject to the courts assigning a Guardian who may or may not be a family member.

    Living Will. Informs your health care providers and family about your wishes regarding medical treatment. Also referred to as a health care directive.

    Will and Testament. A legal document specifying your last wishes by appointing beneficiaries, such as loved ones, charities or organizations to receive your possessions/assets upon your death. In addition, it’s a good idea to have the following information available for loved ones. Keep it someplace that is safe and easily accessible.

    Personal History. Create a notebook or computer file that includes medical conditions, financial accounts, passwords and other pertinent information.

    Insurance Policies. Make a list including all insurance policies – life, home, auto, long-term care, etc. – and assign beneficiaries as needed.

    Having appropriate estate planning paperwork allows you to dictate your care and the distribution of your assets, plus it provides your loved ones with access to information when they need it most.

    If you need help getting started, AARP publishes a book entitled “Checklist for My Family” that is a great resource.

    Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today!