Anyone in Georgia should create an estate plan, but people with chronic diseases or those approaching advanced age have an urgent need to document their wishes. A quarter of people ages 65 to 74 must grapple with the effects of chronic diseases. Half of the people age 85 or older experience cognitive impairment. People should strive to complete their estate planning documents, especially those necessary for medical care, while they are physically and mentally able to consider their decisions.

Since chronic diseases could, at some point, overwhelm people, they need to enable trusted loved ones to participate in medical care and decisions. A HIPPA release represents a good start. The form names an individual along with successors who can view another person’s medical records. The release grants a designated person access to someone’s personal health information. This access could be important to the delivery of care.

Living wills provide people with a way to explain their health care preferences. This document can address end-of-life care as well as treatment related to specific diseases. Along with a living will, people should execute a health care proxy. This document designates a person’s agent who can assume responsibility for medical decisions if the person becomes incapacitated.

The preparation of an estate plan could reduce stress on family members when their loved ones’ health declines. They will know what the person wants regarding care and have the ability to participate in medical decisions. Advice from a lawyer could also help someone prepare a comprehensive estate plan that covers financial issues, like choosing a financial power of attorney or shifting assets into trusts. Legal support could guide a person through decisions about unfamiliar topics. An attorney could suggest strategies that protect one’s assets and prepares family members to assume greater responsibilities as their loved one with chronic disease ages.