Long-term care a vital part of your California estate plan

Don't neglect long-term care planning when crafting your estate plan.

When most of us hear the phrase "estate planning," we think about wills, trusts and the possibility of passing along assets to our children or other loved ones. There are other, equally important aspects of estate planning, however. These include dealing with our health and financial care in the event of illness or incapacity, and paying for long-term care (such as that provided by a nursing home) should that become necessary.

Medical care

The first, and perhaps most vital, component of long-term care planning is an advance health care directive. Sometimes called a "living will" or "health care power of attorney," this document will grant someone of your choosing - usually a family member or close friend - the ability to make medical care decisions on your behalf when you cannot. It is important to name someone you trust, and to have taken the time to inform that person ahead of time about your wishes.

For example:

  • Do you want extreme life-saving measures (like a ventilator, feeding tube or artificial resuscitation)?
  • Do you want to remain on machines indefinitely if your brain function is insufficient for independent survival?
  • Would you like to donate organs or tissue?
  • Is there a physician, clinic or hospital from which you would prefer care?

Drafting an advance health care directive (provided it is valid and legally enforceable) will grant your proxy the power to make these decisions, but it's always better that you offer your input before the time comes. Having your preferences known makes things significantly easier on the decision-maker during what will surely be a difficult time.

Financial concerns

In order to make sure that medical bills, utilities and other expenses are paid during your illness or incapacity, you need to appoint a power of attorney. This will give him or her access to your financial accounts and the authority to make financial decisions for you. It is vital that someone be authorized, since banking institutions cannot typically allow withdrawals without it, and many businesses (like insurance providers, utility companies and more) sometimes won't even take payments without such permission.

Powers of attorney also allow a responsible person of your choosing to handle asset growth for you, like:

  • Investing your money in stocks
  • Moving funds from one type of security to another if one is underperforming
  • Putting assets in a trust to ensure eligibility for government benefits like Medicare/Medicaid
  • Handling the sale of real estate, vehicles or other high-value assets

As you can see, there is much more to estate planning than just asset protection. Estate plans are holistic: they are there to provide for you just as much as they are to provide for your loved ones after you're gone. To get started on your comprehensive estate plan today, contact the Alameda-area Law Offices of Connie Yi. Mandarin and Cantonese clients are welcome in addition to English speakers; call today at 888-312-6978.