The family of Tim Conway–co-star of the Carol Burnett Show–has recently announced that he is suffering from dementia. Progression of the disease is advanced. Conway is no longer able to take care of his own daily needs, and he is largely unresponsive.

Now, his wife and daughter have begun a legal battle over his care. Conway’s wife wants to move him to a different nursing facility, which allegedly does not offer 24-hour care. Conway’s daughter is opposed to this move. She wants to become her father’s legal guardian and have decision-making power over his medical treatment. Regrettably, this will be settled in court, likely as a long drawn out process. 

This sad story serves as a reminder about the importance of creating legal guidelines for your care–if you are suddenly incapable of making medical decisions for yourself, without the proper legal directives in place, your future could be determined by a court–and the outcome may very well go against your wishes.

Here’s what you should do to avoid family battles and court: Meet with your estate planning attorney to discuss whom you trust to handle your care and other important decisions on your behalf. Together, you will designate a:

1. Guardian

2. Power of Attorney

3. Health Care Proxy

None of us wants to imagine a time when we no longer have control over our own bodies and minds. However, making these decisions while we’re healthy is critical to ensuring our most personal wishes are honored.