No matter what point you are at in your life it is important to at least consider what sort of estate planning goals and strategies you may want to pursue. It is a great idea for even the young and healthy to begin talking about how they would like to structure their estate and pass along as many assets as possible to their future heirs.

But for those who are facing a chronic illness the utility of estate planning is all the more obvious. The importance of drafting a will, trusts and other long term planning documents is not related only to the fact that the seriously ill may not have as much time as others, there are also unique considerations that should be addressed for those with serious health problems.

For those that face an increased likelihood of physical or mental incapacity for extended periods, a health care power of attorney can ensure that someone you trust is appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf. A living will provides your instructions directly to your doctor on how you would like end of life medical decisions to be handled. You can also create a financial power of attorney so that someone you trust can access and manage your financial accounts when you are incapacitated.

A chronic illness can sometimes create a sense of powerlessness and a loss of control. Depending on individual health concerns it may be that in the near future you may not be able to personally express your wishes. By taking action proactively however you can put yourself in the driver’s seat for some of the most important decisions that will affect your future.

Source: Forbes “Declining Health Is Scary: Estate And Financial Planning Can Protect You,” Hani Sarji, Oct. 17, 2011