Chronic Health Conditions And Estate Planning, Part 1

Our culture has subscribed for many years to a generalized belief that medicine can somehow fix almost any health problem.

The upside of this is a health care system that is capable of many amazing treatments. The downside, however, includes a tendency to deny the inevitability of death and the consequences of decline.

When there is such denial, it can be difficult to take appropriate action on creating an estate plan. In this two-part post, we will discuss the importance of putting such a plan in place when you have a chronic health condition.

In addition to a basic will, one component of an effective estate plan is an advance care directive, otherwise known as a living will. This is a document that enables you to provide guidance on the type of medical decisions you desire, in the event you become unable to make them for yourself.

Another key component is a health care proxy, also known in Michigan as patient advocate designation. This is sometimes also sometimes called a durable power of attorney for health care in Michigan. As we explained in our April 9 post, a document with such a designation enables you to specify someone to make medical decisions for you if you are no longer able to do so.

Having these documents in place can take a great burden off of your mind. This is especially true for many people who have chronic illness.

Millions of Americans suffer from illnesses for which there is no known cure or effective treatment.

Examples of chronic diseases and conditions that are leading causes of death and disability include:
• Heart disease
• Cancer
• Diabetes
• Arthritis
• Obesity
• Parkinson's disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of the adults in the U.S. have one or more chronic health conditions. And 1 in 4 adults has two or more such conditions.

When you have such a condition, it is understandable that managing it can take up a lot of your mental attention. Our point, however, is that taking the time to put an estate plan in place can actually help you manage your condition by providing more piece of mind.

In part two of this post, we will discuss the connection between chronic health conditions and disability.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion," Accessed June 4, 2014

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