Making preparations for the distribution of your monetary resources to your loved ones after you are gone is at the core of the estate planning process. At the same time, you should also think about eventualities that may confront you toward the end of your life.
These are not very pleasant things to consider, but if you meet them head on in advance, you can minimize potential negative consequences.
Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease
It is important to see a clear picture with regard to the circumstances that confront many elders at some point in time. First, you have to realize the fact that the life expectancy for someone who is turning 67 today is 85 for a man, and it is 87 for a woman.
Most people expect to make it until their mid-60s, and if you do, there is a good chance that you will experience life as an octogenarian.
The Alzheimer’s Association does a lot of fantastic work providing resources for families that are touched by this horrible disease. According to their site, over 10 percent of people who are 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, and the figure swells to 40 percent for individuals who are 85 years of age and older.
People with Alzheimer’s induced dementia are going to become unable to make sound decisions on their own at some point in time. Plus, Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of dementia, and there are other types of incapacity.
If you do not take any steps to prepare for potential incapacity in advance, people close to you could petition the state to appoint a guardian to act on your half. You would become a ward, and this is an outcome that would not sound very appealing to many people.
The most obvious downside to a guardianship proceeding is the fact that the person who is empowered to act as your representative may not be the individual who you would have chosen yourself. Another negative is the potential for disagreements among your loved ones about the correct way to proceed.
Proactive Incapacity Planning
To account for the possibility of incapacitation, you could include certain documents in your broader estate plan.
If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee in the document. This individual or entity would be empowered to administer the trust if you ever become unable to handle the administration tasks yourself.
Another document that can be used to name a financial decision maker is a durable power of attorney for property. This would apply to property that is in your direct personal possession.
In addition to financial decision-making, medical matters can present themselves. To account for this, you could add a durable power of attorney for health care. You could name the same person to act as the agent for financial and medical matters, but this is not a requirement.
Under the terms of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), health care professionals are not allowed to share medical information with anyone other than the patient. To make this important info available to your health care agent, you can add a HIPAA release form.
You should round out your incapacity plan with a living will. With this type of will, you state your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures.
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It is time to end the procrastination if you have been going through life without an estate plan. Every case is different, so personalized attention is key. This is exactly what you will receive when you partner with our firm.
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