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Estate planning essentials for baby boomers: part I

With the aging of the populous baby boomer generation, more New York families are dealing with figuring out how to provide for the care and wellbeing of an aging parent or loved one. Individuals over the age of 65 are more likely to be impacted by a serious illness or medical condition that could ultimately result in an individual requiring hospitalization or long-term care.

While no one can plan for the unknown, there are steps aging New York residents and their families can take to help provide for future financial, health care and long-term care needs. While it can be difficult to contemplate the situation or events that would necessitate a document such as a durable power of attorney or living will, planning for the worst case scenario can ultimately serve to save loved ones time, money and heartache.

There are several estate planning steps aging individuals would be wise to take with regard to planning for one's own financial and health care needs. For example, a durable power of attorney or POA can be named to handle an individual’s financial matters in the event an individual is too ill or incapacitated to do so. An individual can also assign more than one POA to handle different financial matters.

In cases where a parent or family member has not named a POA, a family member may petition the court to be named as a conservator. Once a conservatorship has been granted, an adult child or relative is allowed access to and control over a loved one's finances. The terms and requirements of a conservatorship, however, are dictated by the court and become a matter of public record.

In our next post, we'll continue to discuss essential estate planning health care documents aging individuals may wish to contemplate. Individuals, who have questions about either their own estate planning needs or those of an aging parent or loved one, would be wise to consult with an attorney who can tailor solutions to meet specific needs and goals.

Source: The Oregonian, "Sandwich generation: Handling an elderly parent's financial, legal and medical matters," Amy Wang, Jan. 29, 2014

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