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Do Californians procrastinate end-of-life planning?

Making end-of-life decisions can be a tough task to face. You may not want to think about your own passing, but you’ve worked hard to build a legacy to protect your family’s financial future and you don’t want to squander it now by not having an estate plan in place before it’s too late.

April 16, 2014 marked the seventh annual National Health Care Decisions Day, an occasion that encourages people to think about their future in the event of serious illness, incapacitation or death. Drafting estate plan documents, designating a health proxy, setting up a special needs trust, and drawing up a living will are all essential steps that will assure your wishes are carried out.

Sadly, a study by the California HealthCare Foundation found that an overwhelming majority is neglecting this crucial process; eight out of 10 people surveyed said they had a desire to arrange for end-of-life eventualities, but only one in 10 had actually had that critical conversation. Among those aged 65 and older, a mere 13 percent said they’d actually taken steps to prepare.

Many feel it’s something that will never happen to them or they think there’s plenty of time to deal with it later in life. However, according to Pew Research, 42 percent of the people in this nation have dealt with a friend or relative in a coma or one suffering from a terminal illness within the last five years.

It can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it far outweighs the alternative. Once you’ve become incapacitated, it’s often too late legally to make estate planning decisions. At that point the consequences are generally expensive and emotionally unpleasant for your friends and family.

Source: Reuters.com, “National event urges Americans to plan for the end,” Randi Belisomo, April 16, 2014

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