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Impairment impedes estate planning process

Florida residents are continuing to live longer and accumulate more wealth. As our nation ages, though, an increasing number of even affluent investors say they are more concerned about estate planning than any other part of their portfolio. In fact, about one in three affluent Americans are concerned about their estate plan.

One of the most common concerns that arise during the late-term estate planning process is the degradation of cognitive function that can compromise financial decision-making. Many affluent investors are nervous about the quality and future of their estate plan because of their advanced age. If you put off the estate planning process until it is too late, your decisions might be considered suspect by a judge, and your wishes could be in jeopardy. In addition, you could make big financial errors, such as failing to pay bills or even depleting your entire savings account.

Surveys show many investors worry about the future of their health. They are uncertain about being placed in a care facility, for example, and they also fret about their spouse's health conditions. Although most of these individual say they would trust a family member with some decisions, a large group also acknowledges the negative family dynamics that can play out while an elderly relative is ailing.

To combat these concerns, experts in estate planning recommend taking three simple steps. First, gather information about the medical condition that you are experiencing. Conduct a financial inventory at this time, as well. This is the best time to finalize your will and power of attorney. Next, your family should be called upon to help implement the plan. Adult children can share responsibilities for paying parents' bills. Finally, each relative needs to decide how involved they should be in their parents' caregiving.

If you have questions about your estate plan, consider speaking to a qualified probate attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your rights and responsibilities before a cognitive decline begins that could jeopardize your ability to make important choices.

Source:  www.millionairecorner.com, "'Major barriers' preventing families from estate planning: survey" Donald Liebenson, Aug. 14, 2013