Estate planning is crucial for those with serious illnesses

It's a scary reality that millions of Americans live with a chronic illness. In fact, some statistics indicate that more than 130 million people are affected by these conditions, and that number is only expected to grow for the foreseeable future.

Some of these individuals have diseases that will prove fatal, while others are fortunate enough to survive, but even those in the latter category can face significant health challenges and limitations. Although it may be difficult for these individuals to think about it, estate planning should be a priority.

There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is to ensure that one's health care and financial matters are appropriately tended to in the event of incapacitation. A HIPPA release can allow an identified individual to access an individual's medical records, which can be crucial to ensuring that appropriate health care is obtained. This type of release is often coupled with a health care directive, which gives a named individual decision-making power in the event that the creator of that document is unable to do so on his or her own.

A living will can also specify the types of treatment an individual is willing to undergo, while a financial power of attorney can give a named individual the same power of financial decisions in the event of incapacitation.

But those suffering from a serious medical condition may also want to prioritize estate planning so that they can better ensure that their loved ones are adequately cared for. Those who neglect to create or modify an estate plan may find that when the time comes their assets are distributed in a way that doesn't suit their wishes. For many, this is unfathomable, especially when their health is declining and they may want to reward those who stood by them the longest.

Developing an estate plan can be tricky under normal circumstances, but a chronic health condition can make it even more challenging. This is why Californians who find themselves in this position may want to discuss the matter with an estate planning attorney.

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