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Steps to Take in Advance of Disability or Death

12th August 2010
By Law Office of Sean D. Ethington in Estate Planning
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Although none of us wants to contemplate a time when we or a loved one might become disabled or die, it is important to be prepared. There are many steps families can take in advance of death or disability to avoid future conflicts or uncertainties:

- Don't be afraid to start the conversation. Whether you are a parent talking to your children, a husband talking to a wife, or an adult child talking to an aging parent, bringing up the topic of death and disability can be difficult, but it is an important conversation to have. A recent study by The Hartford found that parents were more willing to discuss estate planning issues than their children.

- Make sure you or your loved ones have done estate planning. All estate plans should include, at minimum, two important estate planning instruments: a durable power of attorney and a will. The first is for managing property during your lifetime, in case you are unable to do so yourself. The second is for the management and distribution of property after death. Revocable (or "living") trusts can also help you avoid probate and manage your estate both during your life and after you're gone. In addition, you or your loved ones should consult with an estate planning attorney about the best way to minimize estate taxes.

- Plan for the worst. You and your loved ones need to be prepared in the event that one of you becomes disabled and will no longer be able to make your own decisions. The durable power of attorney mentioned above is an important instrument. You will also need a health care proxy (sometimes called a health care power of attorney), which gives someone else the medical authority to communicate your wishes about medical treatment.

- Determine you or your loved ones' wishes regarding funeral arrangements. You may want to pay for your funeral ahead of time to take the burden off of family, but you need to be careful and shop around. If you can't make arrangements ahead of time, put your wishes in writing so the whole family knows what you want. This subject is typically covered in an Advance Health Care Directive.
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About the Author
Occupation: Attorney (California)
Our firm specializes in Elder Law with particular emphasis in California Medi-Cal Eligibility Planning, Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Minimization, Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration. We work closely with our clients to ensure that their assets are protected and preserved according to their individual circumstances
and goals.

Our law firm treats our clients as individuals rather than as “cases.”
We customize our service for each individual client in a friendly,
compassionate, and timely manner with reasonable fees. We understand and appreciate that our clients have entrusted our firm with these often sensitive matters.

Sean D. Ethington is an estate planning and elder law attorney who takes great pride in offering his clients customized planning pursuant to their unique circumstances and goals. He is accessible and takes time to thoroughly review potential strategies and options with his clients. Sean received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History at the University of California, Riverside, and his Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern University School of Law. Sean is a member of the
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Southern California Council of Elder Law Attorneys, Los Angeles County Bar Association (trusts and estates section), and San Fernando Valley Bar Association.
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