You may have to make difficult decisions while you still have the mental and physical capacity to deal with financial, legal and health care issues. Personal and health affairs management, estate planning and administration, long-term care and how to pay for assisted living or nursing home care are needs that must be addressed by all of us - the sooner, the better. In the health arena, powerful instruments give authority over life-and-death decisions: \u2022 Advance directives include the appointment of a health care representative, end-of-life decisions, a living will, organ donation and the designation of a future conservator. These documents help you ensure that family, friends and providers carry out your wishes. Under the umbrella of estate planning and administration, seniors will want advice and counsel on: \u2022 The preparation of documents, such as wills, trusts, and durable powers of attorney \u2022 Real estate titling, sale, conveyance or gifting \u2022 Advance planning in order to qualify for future Medicaid benefits \u2022 The financial and tax implications of any of these proposed actions, as well as real estate, gift and estate taxes (Connecticut and federal) Planning for incapacity is not fun, but facing it is wise. Consider the appointment of: \u2022 An attorney-in-fact \u2022 A health care representative \u2022 An executor of one's estate under a will or a trustee under a trust \u2022 A conservator for you and\/or your property \u2022 A representative payee for your Social Security benefits Many of these roles are similar, but there are important differences regarding who has control of what and under what circumstances. For example, power of attorney allows someone to act on your behalf. But if that power of attorney is durable, it remains in effect even if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself. You will probably want to look into how capacity is determined and what level of capacity is required for various legal activities where you live or own property. You may be the subject of guardianship\/conservatorship proceedings or other protective arrangements, such as who should represent you. You will want a plan to allocate responsibility to someone you trust. An attorney can explain who can have what level of control over your finances, your life and any trusts. End of-life medical and living assistance Long-term care or home care insurance may be something you will want to explore. It is prudent to understand your rights as a patient or resident of hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and continuing care retirement communities. Key considerations include admission, transfer and discharge policies, and quality of care. Among other legal issues to hone in on are: \u2022 Housing and financing options, such as mortgage alternatives, renovation loan programs, life care contracts and home equity conversions \u2022 Pensions, retiree health benefits and unemployment benefits \u2022 Income, estate and gift tax advice, especially the consequences of plans offered. \u2022 Litigation and administrative advocacy for contested wills, capacity issues, elder abuse, financial or consumer fraud, fiduciary administration, public benefits, nursing home torts and discrimination This checklist of legal issues you may face can serve as a good preliminary overview of areas you will want to consider. Without proper planning, the estate you worked to build could go to a long-term care facility instead of to your loved ones. Our office will be happy to consult with you to address these legal concerns. Robert A. Scalise Jr. is a partner of Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC in New Britain. For information, visit esmlaw.com.