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Looking for a holiday conversation starter? Try your estate plan

Many of our Michigan readers have probably been having a good time in recent days, celebrating the holidays and getting together with friends and family. This is certainly the time of year when many people are ready to relax and catch up and spend time with the people who are most important to them. For some that means days spent shopping, playing in the snow or watching sports together on television. But, a recent article has suggested that many people should take this time together with family members to address another topic: estate planning.

Is there ever an optimal time to discuss an estate plan? Probably not. Many people find it uncomfortable to talk about and plan for unpleasant contingencies. However, it can be just as hard in today's society to find a time when all of the family gets together as well. For some people, the holidays provide just that type of opportunity.

At the very least, discussing the options for powers of attorney can be broached with those close family members who would be trusted with the important task. Michigan residents should have two separate powers of attorney with two separate, detailed purposes. First, a durable power of attorney is needed to designate someone to handle financial affairs should a person become incapacitated or otherwise unable to deal with their affairs. Second, a health care power of attorney is needed in order to designate an individual to make medical decisions on a person's behalf, likewise in the case that the person becomes unable to make those decisions themselves.

Nobody wants to rain on the holiday parade, but getting these documents in order is an essential step to any sound estate plan. If the person our Michigan readers trust in these types of situations is with them to celebrate, a quick conversation could be all that is needed to take the first steps toward checking off an important part of any estate plan.

Source: post-gazette.com, "Elder Law: A time to plan," Julian Gray and Frank Petrich, Dec. 23, 2012

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