When you are looking ahead toward your twilight years, you should be pragmatic about possible incapacitation.
People are living longer and longer lives, and it is likely that you will live into your eighties if you are fortunate enough to celebrate your 65th birthday. Once you reach an advanced age, incapacitation can enter the picture.
Alzheimer’s disease alone is enough to get your attention. The Alzheimer’s Association does a lot of fantastic work educating the public about this disease. According to their website, around 45 percent of people who are at least 85 are suffering from the disease. Alzheimer’s disease causes dementia, and people with dementia often become unable make sound decisions on their own.
If you do nothing to prepare for possible incapacity, and you do become incapacitated at some point, a guardianship hearing could be convened. Ultimately, the state could appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.
This is a necessary safeguard, but the outcome may not be consistent with what you would have wanted when you were fully capable of making sound decisions on your own.
Proactive Incapacity Planning
You can take things into your own hands when you are planning your estate. If you use a revocable living trust as your primary vehicle of asset transfer, you could empower a disability trustee to administer the trust if you become incapacitated at some point in time.
Another option would be the creation of a durable financial power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will remain in effect even if you become incapacitated. With this document, you could name an agent or attorney-in-fact who would be able to take care of your financial decision-making in the event of your incapacitation.
When you are implementing your incapacity plan, you also have to take medical decision-making into account. To name a representative who would be empowered to handle your health care decision-making if you become incapacitated, you could include a durable power of attorney for health care. This document can also be referred to as a health care proxy.
As you can see when you digest all of this information about incapacity, you should plan ahead in advance to prepare yourself for the contingency. If you take the right steps, hand-picked decision-makers of your own choosing will be in place to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
If you would like to embed an incapacity plan within a broader, comprehensive estate plan, our firm would be glad to help. We offer free consultations, and we can answer all of your questions and help you put a personalized plan in place.
To set up an appointment, send us a message through this page: Long Island NY Incapacity Planning.
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