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Planning ahead for end of life when your family lives far away

We often discuss the need to plan ahead for end-of-life care and decisions no matter what age you are, but some circumstances can make planning ahead even more essential to protect your wishes. One of those situations can be when your adult children or other close relatives all live far away from you. In such cases, they might not be able to be readily by your side if something should occur, making it important that you have recorded your wishes on paper and made provisions for long-distance decision making.

For example, you might want to name someone as your power of attorney so he or she can make financial or health care decisions if you are incapacitated. If the person you want to name lives far away, you should take extra steps to ensure your medical providers have the relevant forms on file and have that person's contact information. You might also want to inform certain local friends and family about your decision and provide them with your POA's contact information.

Advanced planning for end-of-life care also includes making decisions about what life-saving medical services you do and don't want. Without a document of your preferences on file, medical provides might have to turn to your closest relatives for a decision. If your children or other close relatives live far away, it could take time to locate them for such decision-making, and your wishes hang in the balance in the intervening time.

End-of-life decisions and care are very serious matters, so it's understandable that you would want to ensure any paperwork regarding these issues was correctly created. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you form such documents to best protect your preferences in the future.

Source: AgingCare.com, "Long-Distance Caregiving: Planning for Your Parents' Future," accessed Oct. 28, 2016

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