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Who can make decisions for you if you can't?

As you age, you know the growing importance of having an estate plan in place. You may think it's only important if you have children or direct heirs, but the reality is that it's important no matter who you are.

As someone without children, you're known as a Solo Ager. One important question you need to ask yourself and have an answer to is, "who is going to make decisions for me if I can't do so myself due to physical or mental illness?" You'll need to determine what you want to have happen and put it in your estate plan and will.

It's vital to look into your support system and think about who you'd want to have making decisions for you. You may want to have a durable power of attorney for your finances and an advance health care directive, too. If you don't know who you want to appoint to that kind of position, know that a judge will appoint someone if you don't choose someone yourself. Even if you choose based on not wanting one person or another in control of your life, choosing someone is better than waiting for the court to decide.

So, who will your agent be? It may be a spouse, good friend or colleague. You can appoint anyone, and it's a good idea to name a backup as well in case the first person cannot take on the role when you need assistance. Your attorney can help you decide on the right person for the job and draw up the legal documents to make it official.

Source: Forbes, "Estate And Long-Term Care Planning Help For Solo Agers," Sara Zeff Geber, accessed May 24, 2018

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