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Advance Directives and Advance Planning

Properly prepared incapacity planning documents can help avoid the need for a guardianship while helping to ensure that your needs can be met in a less expensive and burdensome way, and by the person you most trust.  

living will and health care surrogate designation are important legal documents that can help ensure that your personal wishes regarding health care decisions can be followed even at a time when you are unable to speak for yourself. Although links to forms for these documents are included on this page, it is always best to seek the assistance of an attorney to ensure that your advance directives are correctly completed and accurately state your wishes.  

Regarding alternatives for financial decision-making needs, a 
durable power of attorney can be both beneficial and dangerous, and it must contain specific language in order to best protect your individual interests. The same is true of a revocable living trust, which also must be funded in particular ways in order to be usable.

A preneed guardian declaration allows the maker to alert the court as to who would be preferred as guardian, should the need for guardianship arise.

Estate planning matters can be very complex and may include consideration of
wills, revocable trusts, lifetime gifts, special needs trusts, several types of irrevocable trusts, testamentary trusts, family limited partnerships, and other planning vehicles.

It is very important to seek help from an attorney to determine whether, and which of, these options are right for you and to obtain assistance with the creation of documents best suited to your needs.  An elder law or wills and estates specialist attorney would be the most knowledgeable in this area. Some free legal aid elder law programs or local bar pro bono programs are able to provide advance directives, and in some cases, certain other documents, to eligible seniors at no cost.

Please use the tabs to your left to obtain further information about advance directives and advance planning.