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Estate planning: Being prepared for the unexpected

With what is happening in the world today, many people are thinking about planning for unforeseen events and that means pausing to think about end-of-life issues. Colorado residents would do well to have things in place should they become ill or even pass away and that means doing some comprehensive estate planning. Besides having a will, a complete estate plan should have some necessary components.

A testator (the estate owner) needs to ensure that an individual is named to make decisions regarding health issues if he or she can no longer do so. What is known as a health care proxy or an advance health care directive gives a trusted person the authority to make, at times, some pretty difficult decisions such as whether or not take someone off life support. The testator’s wishes should be clearly documented so this person can follow those wishes.

A testator could opt to use a Five Wishes form instead of a health care proxy. But this form is not often utilized since it needs to be very specific about care at the end of someone’s life. This document also speaks to things like emotional, spiritual and personal needs at the end of a person’s life. It all depends upon a person’s individual preference whether or not to use a Five Wishes form.

A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) waiver should also be signed. This document protects a person’s health care information from being shared with those who have no need to see it. Family or friends can only see a loved one’s health care information if a HIPAA waiver has been signed by the testator. The issues concerning estate planning can seem somewhat complex and Colorado residents who have questions regarding what an estate plan should include would benefit from the advice of an attorney experienced in estate planning laws.

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