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It’s a good time to review estate planning documents

Each year, about 40,000 Californians move to Oregon, and about 20,000 Oregonians move out.

If you’re one of the people who’ve moved to this state, and you have not had your basic estate planning documents reviewed by an Oregon lawyer, you might want to do that. In fact, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to have them reviewed, even if you have lived here for a long time. Anything that needs to be updated can cause financial issues and a delay in medical care.

In case you’re not sure what comprises an estate plan, it generally means you have a will and/or a trust, a durable power of attorney, and an Oregon advance directive. In fact, a newer version of the advance directive was created last year. You don’t need to update this form if nothing has changed with either your wishes or your representatives. But you might want to take a look at it anyway, because it’s added quite a bit more room for detailing your choices. Here’s the link: www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/ABOUT/Pages/ADAC-Forms.aspx

It’s also a perfect time to get some help on these and other topics by attending a three-session Vital Issues Forum offered by OLLI at SOU.

Titled “Plan4Care: Values and Choices,” the presentations help with planning for and navigating choices as aging happens. The series, co-sponsored by Asante, Rogue Valley Manor and AARP, is free and available on Zoom. The forums run from 2-3:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, and each presentation will have three expert panelists. The moderator is Heather M. Young, a gerontological nursing expert and professor at UC Davis. Register to receive the Zoom link by emailing olli@sou.edu or call 541-552-6048.

Topics at the sessions include anticipating care needs and considering personal values; developing and communicating an action plan; and identifying resources for developing a care plan.

This whole area can be overwhelming and complex. Having the information and navigation offered by these professionals is a much-needed gift to our community. In over 20 years in this field, I have rarely met anyone who didn’t need help and guidance for planning these areas of their life.

In terms of the estate planning documents, I recently spoke with a couple where the husband had been diagnosed with dementia. It was obvious that at some point he will no longer be able serve as his wife’s power of attorney or health care representative on the advance directive. Understanding this, they reached out to their daughters for assistance in preparing for their future needs. Another person had created an advance directive that no longer reflected her wishes, since she recently received a diagnosis of a terminal disease. If anything like these scenarios have occurred in your life, make sure your important documents reflect this new status.

On a lighter note, consider whether you really need all those catalogs that you receive in the mail. If something were to happen to you, calling each one and having them canceled is a bigger task than you might think. I recently took this on for a client and — no exaggeration — over several months I called 66 companies, some of them multiple times. One catalog sells your name to another one, and off this goes.

So, tidy up what you can, make changes where they’re needed, and start the new year off a lot lighter in the heart.

Ellen Waldman is a certified aging life care professional. Submit questions about aging and Ashland-area aging resources and column suggestions to her through her website, www.SeniorOptionsAshland.com.