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Are these 4 critical documents included in your estate plan?

Approaching estate planning can be very difficult for many people across New Jersey. Making plans for the end of your life is something that people may not want to even think about, let alone put down in writing. However, as uncomfortable as it may be to go through this process, having a comprehensive estate plan in place can be crucial for a person in the event that he or she develops a serious health condition.

People who get very sick and require care often must rely on others to help in making decisions. Loved ones can be put in a very difficult spot if they are tasked with or forbidden from making decisions on someone else's behalf because there is no documentation in place assigning these roles. Many people may find it easier to begin the estate planning process if they understand the importance of the documents often included in a plan. 

In general, there are four different documents that can significantly ease the burden of the end-of-life decisions that loved ones may have to make.

  • Living Will: This document clearly states your wishes in regards to the medical treatment you want or do not want. This can be crucial in directing care when you are unable to provide guidance yourself.
  • Health Care Proxy: Assigning a health care proxy means that you are giving someone else the power to make health care decisions on your behalf.
  • Authorization to Release Medical Information: This document can be crucial in directing care, as it gives doctors permission to share your medical records with the person who is making care decisions on your behalf. Without this information, it can be very difficult to understand what choices are appropriate and necessary.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: This document gives permission to another person to manage your finances if you are unable to. It is important that this document be completed when you are in good health.

These four documents can have a profound impact on the type and level of care a person receives at the end of his or her life. They can also provide valuable guidance and permissions to loved ones who may have to make some difficult decisions. In order to make sure these documents are in place and enforceable, a person can work with an attorney to include them in an estate plan.

Source: NASDAQ, "4 Key End-of-Life Documents to Get in Order," Dec. 3, 2013

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Lanza & Lanza LLP
5 Main Street
Flemington, NJ 08822

Phone: 908-905-0183
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