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Healthcare planning can help avoid family disputes

Glen Campbell, the country music star who made California his home for many years, has been battling Alzheimer’s disease since 2011. Recently, his wife says, his condition has worsened to the point where he needs around-the-clock professional care. Unfortunately, other members of the family disagree.

Until recently, Campbell’s wife had been caring for him at their home. When his doctors persuaded her to move him to a long-term care facility this spring, she said the decision was difficult but that she felt it to be in his best interests. The singer’s children, however, objected to the move and say they want their father to be brought home.

There are various estate-planning tools that can help families avoid conflicts like the one currently being played out among Glen Campbell’s loved ones. For example, a health care directive (sometimes called a living will) can communicate your wishes about the type of health care you wish to receive if you become incapacitated. Other tools such as a health care proxy or power of attorney can authorize a trusted friend or family member to make decisions on your behalf about your medical care, finances or other important issues.

Planning for your own incapacity is important not only to ensure that your own wishes are carried out, but also to help protect your family from unnecessary stress and conflict at a time when they are likely to need one another more than ever. If your estate plan does not already address your preferences for end-of-life care, talk to your lawyer about these issues to make sure your family knows what your wishes are should the need arise.

Source: Associated Press, "Campbell's wife defends his care," June 19, 2014

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