Financial matters will logically come to mind when you think about estate planning. However, if you want to be comprehensively prepared for the inevitable, you should consider the possibility of incapacity late in your life.
When you read the term “late in your life,” you may immediately think about your senior years. Indeed, most people do pass away when they are senior citizens.
However, as sad as it is, there are those who die at younger ages. Therefore, preparations that you would make for the period of time preceding your death are applicable to adults of all ages, because you never know what the future holds.
Incapacity Is Common
People often become incapacitated and unable to handle their own affairs before passing away. This can be due to physical incapacitation when you simply cannot communicate because of a medical condition.
Though this condition may be very temporary, there are times when people are unable to communicate for extended periods of time.
There is also the matter of mental incapacity. This is very common among our nation’s senior citizens, largely because of the ubiquity of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are interested in learning some objective facts about Alzheimer’s disease, a good resource to tap into would be the Alzheimer’s Association website. You’ll find a lot of interesting and attention-getting statistics on the site.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, upwards of 45 percent of the oldest old (people who are at least 85 years of age) are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Living to this age is not a long-shot by any means. Once you reach the age of 65, it becomes statistically likely that you will live into your 80s. The most recent census revealed the surprising fact that the 10 year age group comprised of people between 85 and 94 grew faster than any other between 2000 and 2010.
When you consider these facts, you can see that the prudent course of action would be to prepare for the possibility of incapacity.
If you become unable to handle your own affairs, a conservator could be appointed by the court to act on your behalf.
Most people would rather make their own choices in advance of incapacitation. This is because the court appointed representative may not be someone that you would have chosen.
There is also the matter of possible disagreements among members of your family with regard to the selection of a conservator, or even with regard to the necessity of a conservatorship.
A conservatorship proceeding can take time. While the matter is held up in court, life will go on. While the case is in limbo, difficult circumstances can arise.
Durable Powers of Attorney
You can render conservatorship proceedings unnecessary by executing incapacity planning documents called durable powers of attorney.
Most people are aware of the fact that in general, a power of attorney is a document that you can execute to appoint someone else to act on your behalf. However, a power of attorney does not remain in effect if you become incapacitated unless it carries a durable designation. For this reason, durable powers of attorney are used to account for the possibility of incapacitation.
When you have durable powers of attorney in place, your own hand-picked decision-makers will be at the ready to act on your behalf if and when it becomes necessary.
If you want to use a durable power of attorney but you are concerned about giving the agent powers right away, you may want to consider executing a springing durable power of attorney.
This type of power of attorney springs into effect only in the event of your incapacitation.
There are different types of decision-making that may become necessary if you were to become incapacitated. Someone must handle your financial affairs, but health care decision-making may become necessary as well.
You may want to empower the same person to make both types of decisions. However, you have the option of executing two different durable powers of attorney. You could name an agent to handle your finances, and another agent to make your health care decisions.
Learn More About End-of-Life Planning
It is important to address potential end-of-life issues when you are devising your estate plan. We have provided a bit of basic information in this blog post, but you can learn a great deal more if you download our special report.
Our firm has prepared a comprehensive report that will tell you everything that you need to know about incapacity planning. The special report is being offered on a complimentary basis at the present time, and you can click this link to get your copy: Free Incapacity Planning Report.
To Schedule a Free Consultation
If you are interested in the possibility of working with our firm after learning these facts, please select our “Workshops” tab to RSVP for a free estate planning workshop. At that workshop you will be offered a free one-hour consultation with an attorney: https://collinslawgroup.comseminars/