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Planning for a loved one's medical crisis ahead of time

As the end of the year approaches, Colorado families will be starting to plan family get-togethers to celebrate the holidays. While certain conversation topics may be off-limits during these types of gatherings, family celebrations may actually be one of the best times to have a discussion that's likely uncomfortable but absolutely necessary - planning for when a sick or aging loved one can no longer make decisions for themselves. It's crucial to have this discussion before a crisis arises in order to prevent unnecessary pain and confusion.

There are several documents that should be considered when planning for a loved one's medical crisis. The most important documents are arguably the powers of attorney. A medical power of attorney can be established through a document known as a living will or advanced health care directive. This allows a family member's specific medical wishes to be known while allowing the person designated as the power of attorney to execute the directions in the will.

A second power of attorney involves the financial aspects of an aging family member's life. An appointed financial power of attorney will act on the family member's behalf in order to transfer funds, pay bills or sell any assets. The document can either take effect on the day of notarization, or it can go into effect when a doctor determines that the family member is no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Most aging people choose members of their family to act as powers of attorney.

Planning this meeting may prove very stressful. A strategy for easing into the conversation may include sharing details of your own plan and segueing into plans for older family members. Also, you may want to prepare any adult grandchildren to be present for the discussion, as aging family members may be more compelled to make plans if their grandchildren are present.

Nobody wants to think about their elderly loved ones passing away. However, having a specific estate plan in place can help alleviate many of the extra stresses that arise when the time comes.

Source:  forbes.com, "How To Have The Power-Of-Attorney Talk Before It's Too Late" Nancy Anderson, Nov. 29, 2013

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