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Talk to your heirs about end-of-life wishes

What type of end-of-life care do you really want? Now, everyone hopes that they will pass away peacefully, without complications, but that rarely happens. Planning for the medical care that you want at this time should be part of your estate planning as a whole.

One thing you can do is to create a health care proxy, authorizing someone -- usually a child -- to make decisions for you. This officially puts them in charge of your care if you cannot do it yourself. This is common after injuries, strokes, the onset of degenerative brain diseases and the like.

However, there's one simple step you can take to make sure that your wishes are followed: Talk to your kids about it. Sit down and have this conversation in advance. People often put it off or avoid talking about it, but you really need to. If not for yourself, you need to do it for your kids.

For example, one woman's mother suffered from dementia. Providing her with proper care was difficult because the woman says her mother never spoke with her about it beforehand.

"I was repeatedly faced with decisions for which I felt unprepared and pretty much blindsided," she said in an interview with Forbes. "Often, the difference between a good death and a hard death for survivors was whether they had a conversation with their loved ones about their wishes and whether they were respected."

As with all estate planning, the key is to work to get things done well in advance -- before you need the plan. Make sure you know what steps you can take to start that process.

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