When you plan your estate, you execute documents that express your wishes with regard to the way you want your assets distributed after you pass away. Many people think that this is the long and short of it, but in fact, there is another facet to consider. There are eventualities that you may face during your twilight years, and you should prepare for them in advance. This hypothetical question-and-answer session will provide some valuable insight.
First off, the average lifespan figure is very deceiving. It includes all deaths, including infants, young children, and others that pass away before their time. As you get older, the average lifespan increases. There is a tool on the Social Security Administration website that you can use to see the life expectancy for a person of any age.If you utilize this calculator, you find that the life expectancy for a man that is turning 67 today is 85, and for a woman it is 87. Of course, these numbers go up as the age rises. The life expectancy for a 70 year old woman is 88 years.
This is a commonly held belief, but in fact, the widespread nature of Alzheimer’s disease is a major cause of concern. The Alzheimer’s Association does a lot of great work educating people about this disease, and they provide hands-on resources.According to their site, one out of every eight senior citizens is an Alzheimer’s sufferer. The figure rises to 40 percent for people that are 85 years of age and older. Clearly, many people that are in this age group are going to become unable to make sound decisions on their own.
Under these circumstances, interested parties would petition the court to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf. This is a necessary remedy, but there are drawbacks that can enter the picture.First and foremost, the person that has the power to act on your behalf may not be someone that you would have chosen yourself when you were of sound mind. Secondly, there can be disagreements among family members with regard to the right person to act as your guardian. Disputes can slow down the process, and there can be lingering acrimony among family members.
You execute two different documents to empower agents to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation. For financial decision making, you can create a durable financial power of attorney.The “durable” designation is significant, because this type of power of attorney will remain in effect if you become incapacitated. This would not be the case if you have a standard power of attorney that is not durable. It is also possible to use a springing durable power of attorney. This device would only go into effect if you become unable to handle your own affairs.For medical decision-making, you could include a health care proxy. This document is sometimes called a durable power of attorney for health care. You can name the same person to act as agent for both forms of decision-making, but you are not required to do so.In addition to the health care proxy, you would include a HIPAA release authorization form. The acronym stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law prevents health care providers from sharing medical information with anyone other than the patient. The release form will allow doctors to share your records with your health care agent.The final piece of the incapacity planning puzzle is a living will. With this document, you express your preferences with regard to the utilization of life-sustaining measures like artificial respiration, hydration, and nutrition.
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As you can see, there are some very good reasons why you should include an incapacity planning component within your comprehensive estate plan. If you would like to do just that, our doors are open. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and if you would prefer to speak with us over the phone, we can be reached at 631-265-0599.