The most common mistake people make when they start estate planning is they assume that all of their plans have to deal with issues that can occur after they have passed on. Your estate is set up to take care of your loved one when you have passed on, and you in your later years. You set up a health proxy to make sure medical decisions can be made on your behalf, and you plan out your long-term health care needs to be put into effect as you get older. There several reasons why your long-term health care needs are an important part of the estate planning process.
If you have been putting aside money or took out an insurance policy to specifically be used for your long-term care needs but you are unable to vocalize your intentions, then you and your family could be facing some steep medical bills. With the right estate planning in place, all of the money you have set aside for your own long-term care, including nursing home accommodations, will be accounted for.
If you are unable to speak for yourself and you have no health proxy or long-term care provisions in your estate planning, then you lose the right to determine how you are cared for. The only way to make sure that your rights as a patient are maintained is to have all of your wishes spelled out in your estate planning. If something were to happen to you and you were unable to speak for yourself, your estate planning directions would be followed as though you were giving the instructions yourself.
If you have no long-term health care plans in place when you become extremely ill and unable to speak for yourself, then your family has to step in and make some very difficult decisions. Do you want to be kept alive by a machine or not? Do you want experimental surgery done to save your life? The questions your family will have to deal with can create a great deal of stress, and they could even tear the family apart. With the right estate planning, your wishes will become the instructions your family and your doctors will use to carry out your treatment.
You are healthy now, but you know that the chances that your health will fail as you age are very high. The idea of leaving your family a financial mess or giving your family stress it may not be able to handle can keep you up at night. But when you take care of everything through estate planning, you can rest easy knowing that you have made life easier for yourself and your family.
When you are living your life in your younger years, you experience what happens to your family when the health of older family members starts to fail. While you would never want to bring the stress and pain that comes with having to make important medical decisions for incapacitated family members, you could be lining your family up for that horrible experience without good estate planning.
While you are in relatively good health and know how you want the end of your life to play out, you should make all of your long-term care arrangements with a strong estate plan. Years from now, you and your family will be glad you took that proactive step to have your voice heard, even when you could not speak.