Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Chronic conditions call for specific estate planning practices

The number of Americans who have chronic illnesses is on the rise and is expected to increase from more than 130 million to roughly 157 million by the year 2020. Approximately 25% of people from 65 to 74 years old in Connecticut and across the country have been impacted by chronic diseases. The percentage of people who are affected by chronic conditions increases sharply as people get older. The presence of a chronic illness in a person's life can complicate estate planning and should be addressed in planning documents.

Most estate planning instruments can be customized by a lawyer to meet the needs and goals of the client. Those who have a chronic illness might consider having a living will. A living will is a document that sets forth the healthcare wishes of the person, including end-of-life care. A person who has a chronic illness might want his or her living will to explain the specific illness. The document should also give broad instructions not related to the chronic condition.

Another document that makes sense for people with chronic illnesses is a HIPAA release. A HIPAA release can be designed to give a specific person access to otherwise protected health information. Any such authorization should be made in writing, and it should acknowledge that it is being made and entered into voluntarily. It should also give the person the right to revoke the authorization and have a date of expiration.

People in Connecticut who have questions about their estate plans might want to meet with a lawyer. A lawyer who has experience in elder law might develop a comprehensive estate plan that takes into account the client's chronic conditions. A lawyer may be able to draft the documents necessary to establish a living will or a HIPAA release. He or she might also suggest other planning instruments to protect the client's interests in case of incapacity.

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