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Preparing for your senior years: 3 estate planning must-do’s

As people transition into our late-life years, circumstances often evolve, sometimes unexpectedly. For example, a chronic illness could arise out of nowhere.

If you are ever faced with this situation, it can mean that the estate plan you drafted earlier in life, even if meticulously updated over time, may no longer address your current needs and goals. As such, revisiting certain concerns within your plan in light of changing circumstances can help to ensure it always serves your best interests, regardless of your age and circumstances.

Managing debt and shielding assets

Unpaid debts can significantly erode the inheritances intended for loved ones. Implementing debt-reduction strategies and exploring asset protection tools can help. An irrevocable trust, for instance, may protect your estate assets from lawsuits and creditors, ensuring your beneficiaries receive the maximum intended benefit.

Directing your medical care

Unforeseen circumstances can arise while aging. As such, Louisiana law empowers seniors with three essential tools: The healthcare power of attorney, the  living will and the Louisiana Physician Order for Scope of Treatment (LaPOST).

Use them to express your medical care preferences (living will) and designate someone to make healthcare decisions for you (power of attorney) in the event that you are ever in a health-related situation wherein you cannot advocate for your own interests. The LaPOST is generally for terminally ill people expected to pass within a year.

Planning for your pets

For many seniors, cherished pets can be an integral part of the family. Unfortunately, the law views pets as property, preventing them from directly inheriting through a will. A pet trust offers a solution. Establishing and funding such a trust can help to ensure your companions receive continued love and care in the event of your incapacitation or death.

These are just a few essential considerations for creating or updating a senior estate plan. Having a legal representative review your plan for flaws or gaps can offer extra security and peace of mind.