A lot of people think of estate planning as a purely financial endeavor. It is true that you have to facilitate the transfer of your monetary assets after you pass away. This is one important piece to the puzzle, but it is not the only one.
In order to be comprehensively prepared for the inevitabilities that we will all face, you should consider end-of-life matters as well. With this in mind, we will share some information about incapacity planning in this post.
To fully comprehend what we are trying to convey, you should understand some statistics about Alzheimer’s disease. Everyone has heard of it, but a lot of people are not aware of just how widespread it has become.
The Alzheimer’s Association is an organization that does a lot of great work to educate the public and generate resources to assist sufferers and their families. According to their research, over 10 percent of people that are 65 and older have contracted the disease.
That number is large enough to get your attention, but it rises as people get older. Some 40 percent of Americans that are at least 85 years of age have Alzheimer’s.
If you live long enough to collect Social Security, it is statistically likely that you will live into your mid-80s and perhaps beyond.
Alzheimer’s causes dementia, and people that have this condition become unable to handle their own affairs. When you mix in the fact that Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of incapacity, you can see why this is an issue that you should take seriously.
There is a government mechanism in place to serve as a remedy if you were to become incapacitated without making any plans to address it in advance. Interested parties could petition the state to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf, and you would become a ward.
Here in Smithtown where we are located, the Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court handles guardianship matters.
It is good that there is some recourse under these circumstances, but a guardianship comes with drawbacks. One of them is the basic fact that you would not have any real control over the choice of guardian. At the end of the day, the person that is selected may not be the individual that you would have chosen yourself.
There is also the very real possibility of disagreements among family members with regard to the right choice of guardian. During times like these, family members should be lending support one another. Acrimony is the last thing that anyone needs.
Disability Trustee and Durable Powers of Attorney
You can avoid a guardianship through the implementation of incapacity planning strategies. If you use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, you can name a disability trustee. This individual or entity would be empowered to administer the trust if you become unable to do so yourself.
To account for property that has not been conveyed into the trust for one reason or another, you can include a durable power of attorney for property. The agent that you choose would act on your behalf, and it could be the same person that will act as a disability trustee.
Medical decisions may present themselves as well. With a living will, you can state your choices regarding the use of life-sustaining measures. A health care proxy can be added to name a medical decision maker.
We Are Here to Help!
Action is required if you are going through life without an estate plan that includes a guardianship prevention component.
Each situation is different, and there are multiple approaches that can be taken. You should make fully informed decisions, and we can help you understand your options and make the appropriate recommendations.
If you’re ready to get started, we can be reached by phone at 631-365-0599, and you can fill out our contact form if you would prefer to send us a message.