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Make estate planning a priority

The Law Office of Judith H. Singer helps families begin the conversation

— Both Singer and Fairbanks warned against using information from the Internet to prepare important legal documents no matter what a person’s age. Many turn to the Internet for advice to save money. According to Singer, “It’s a growing trend that has become worrisome for those in the business. Often the documents aren’t prepared correctly, which can lead to disastrous results when certain situations arise.”

“You don’t want to discover at the moment you need a document that it hasn’t been properly executed and doesn’t contain the things needed for your purposes,” said Singer. “This can be a horrifying situation, for example, for seniors with dementia if they lack mental capacity and therefore are beyond the ability to redo their documents. They and their families are then faced with having something in place that doesn’t work.”

Singer and Fairbanks said that it is equally important for young adults to engage in estate planning, something many ignore because they have not yet acquired significant assets. However, young adults may have other equally important estate planning issues to consider. For example, couples with young children should have wills in place that specify guardianship in the event of their deaths. Failure to do so may leave the ultimate decision as to who will serve as their children’s guardian in the hands of the court.

They also recommend that young adults designate a health care proxy, and execute a power of attorney. They point out that it is important to update legal documents after key life events, like marriage or having children.

Estate planning is important at all stages of life according to Singer and Fairbanks. “Death is not limited to the elderly,” said Singer. “Planning for death and incapacity or long-term care during life is something you should put some thought into. Frequently people are doing this at the last minute or not at all.”

Although estate planning can be difficult, the attorneys both agree that in general their clients leave with a feeling of relief and satisfaction that they have done what they can to provide for the future.

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