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Long-term planning for loved ones with special needs

For many Washington residents, caring for loved ones with special needs may be especially difficult in these tough economic times. In addition to the cost of care, all manner of other bills are piling up. However, experts say that, as difficult as it may seem, families that are providing for loved ones with special needs should also do their best to plan for the long term. Doing so is a good idea not only for loved ones with special needs but also for the caregivers' retirement. For example, advance directives, end-of-life wishes, and a living will should all be considered when estate planning becomes a reality.

One of the more important reasons people are now seeking estate planning for those with special needs is that the bad economy has resulted in reduced incomes for caregivers, as jobs have been lost or hours cut. This reduction in income can make things very difficult for many families, especially those that are caring for loved ones. Estate planning allows families to get control over what they may be facing in the future, as well as make plans to address those issues.

Individuals and families who are concerned about estate planning will want to address elective treatment options. These options include establishing end-of-life wishes, which can provide considerable alleviation to those who may eventually have to make difficult decisions regarding a loved one. Establishing end-of-life wishes can also help doctors and hospice personnel to assist family members, since end-of-life documents can clearly and efficiently convey important instructions to healthcare professionals.

Indeed, when it comes to long-term care, estate planning is immensely important, even for families that may be struggling financially. This is truer today than ever before, as many households are burdened by monthly expenses and the general population of the country becomes older. According to a survey by MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning, seven out of ten caregivers are worried about being able to properly provide long-term care for their family members who have special needs. For this reason, Washington residents may wish to begin thinking seriously about estate planning, regardless of their current income levels.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Caregiving? Take care to plan for long term," Janet Kidd Stewart, Dec. 9, 2011

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