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While few of us want to think about what will happen when our parents pass away, it’s essential for older adults to make specific arrangements for what should be done, in the event that they become incapacitated by illness or pass away. This is for the whole family’s benefit, since spelling out their wishes ahead of time will guide other family members through difficult decision-making processes, while hopefully preventing conflicts from arising. To that end, there are three essential legal documents that will allow aging parents to establish their preferences before a crisis occurs:
As a first step, discuss these important legal issues with your parents and find out if they’ve already made arrangements for any of these documents. If your parents don’t have a trusted attorney who can handle estate planning and other legal issues, try to help them find one. It’s a good idea to ask friends, colleagues, or acquaintances whose judgment you trust for recommendations, then to interview attorneys together until you both feel ready to choose one with whom you’re comfortable. Keep in mind that each state has its own correct legal format for these documents so it’s essential to make sure your parents have the correct ones for New York State.
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