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Estate planning strategies for end of life care and treatment

For New Yorkers who are thinking about strategies for their estate plan, a factor that is often overlooked is what will happen if they become incapacitated or ill. This should be considered as part of the process. An example of the importance of this came to light with the musician Tom Petty and his estate plan that allowed for him to be removed from life support as per his wishes. Those who are concerned about family disputes, whether a power of attorney is necessary, how a healthy proxy works and more should know about all their options that can fit in with their desires.

End of life care can be exorbitantly expensive. Research from nearly a decade ago showed it to be nearly $12,000 in the final year of a person's life. In 2017, it would be around $18,000, but it might be more. People would be wise to begin thinking about end of life care and other eventualities as soon as they reach legal adulthood. The numbers show that only slightly more than 26 percent of adults take the steps to have a document detailing their desires if they cannot say so directly, known as an advance directive.

Many people want a do-not-resuscitate or do not intubate if they have an illness that is untreatable or an issue that requires machines to stay alive. This document will prevent that from happening. Other options are a living will which lists how a person wants to be cared for in certain circumstances. For example, some might not want to be fed through a tube. A durable power of attorney will give another person the right to decide on a person's property. This is different from a general power of attorney as it accounts for the testator's incapacitation, should it occur.

Not everyone has the assets of Mr. Petty, but anyone who is preparing for the future and wants to make sure they do not receive care or treatment they do not want should think about this aspect of estate planning. Discussing all the alternatives with an experienced attorney is essential to the process and should be done immediately regardless of the person's age or health status.

Source: cnbc.com, "What Tom Petty's choices can teach you about end-of-life care," Lorie Konish, Oct. 17, 2017

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