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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
Fax: (201) 997-9567
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Voicing your wishes not enough; put them in writing

Whether you live in New Jersey or some other state, the importance of planning now for the future and making your plans known, in writing, is something everyone should be doing. Issues such as how to protect your assets, limit the bite of taxes and making sure that, if you can't make decisions for yourself, whoever does really cares about your best interests, can seem complicated. But they can be handled with help.

Selection of a guardian may be one of the most important tasks to address. If you don't choose one for yourself, you might find yourself under the aegis of a stranger; not ideal. Whoever you choose should be fully apprised of what their duties and powers as guardian might be in a given situation, before they agree to take on the role.

This takes on a certain level of urgency when you consider the number of Americans who don't have advance directive planning that includes guardianship. According to a study by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, fewer than half of people who are severely or terminally ill have directives as part of their legal and medical record.

No one likes to consider the prospect of not being able to make decisions for themselves. But sometimes life doesn't give you a choice. Dementia or other brain injury can strip a loved one of their ability to function on their own. There are also the cases like that of Terry Schiavo, the Florida woman who spent years in a vegetative state and became the center of a gut-wrenching legal battle between family members seeking to make end-of-life decisions on her behalf.

In the end, the truth of it all is that the only thing certain in life is death. Failure to consider its implications, and plan for them, only compounds the fear and pain that loved ones will face if the realities haven't been addressed with a plan.

Source: Northwest Herald, "Put it in writing: End-of-life decisions best made long before serious illness," Jane Huh, Oct. 30, 2011

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