Estate planning is often looked upon as a purely financial endeavor, and this is definitely a large part of the process. At the same time, you should also address the eventualities that you may face during your twilight years.
Aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Incapacity
Your life expectancy is at least 85 years after you celebrate your 67th birthday, and Alzheimer’s disease is quite common among people in this age group. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that 32 percent of the oldest old have contracted the disease.
This is not the only cause of cognitive impairment, and there are people that cannot handle their affairs effectively due to serious physical ailments. Clearly, this is not a pleasant prospect, but it is a fact of life that that you should confront with clear eyes.
If you do nothing to prepare for possible incapacity, the state could be petitioned to appoint a conservator to manage your affairs. This is a necessary safeguard, but there are potential negatives.
One of them is the simple fact that the person that is chosen to act as your representative may not be the individual that you would have selected yourself. Secondly, everyone in the family may not agree with regard to the appropriate course of action.
Disability Trustee and Durable Powers of Attorney
You can take the matter into your own hands in advance if you execute the appropriate legal documents when you are planning your estate.
A living trust is the ideal asset transfer vehicle for a wide range of people. When you have a living trust, you would act as the trustee while you are alive and well, so you would maintain control of the assets every step of the way.
The trust would be revocable, so you could dissolve or rescind the trust if you ever choose to do so. You would name a successor trustee to assume the role after your passing, and your heirs would be the beneficiaries.
When you are drawing up the trust, you can name a successor trustee or another individual to act as a disability trustee in the event of your incapacity. This is just one of the many benefits that living trusts provide.
To account for assets that are not held by a trust, you can name a representative in a durable power of attorney for property. The “durable” designation is significant, because a durable power of attorney will remain in effect upon the incapacitation of the grantor.
Advance Directives for Health Care
Your incapacity plan should also address medical decision-making. Doctors can sometimes keep people alive indefinitely through the use of artificial means when there is no hope of recovery.
You can state your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures like feeding tubes, artificial hydration, resuscitation, and mechanical respiration in a living will. The document can also be used to express your organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication preferences.
Situations can arise that are not directly related to the use of life-support when you are unable to communicate your own choices. To account for this, you can add a durable power of attorney for health care.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevents doctors from releasing medical records to anyone other than the patient. Your plan should include a HIPAA release to give your health care agent the freedom to speak freely with your physicians.
During the final stage of your life, you may require hospice care. Medical professionals provide palliative care to make your last days as comfortable as possible with the knowledge that you will not be recovering.
Medicare will cover hospice care in your home, and the care can alternately be provided in a nursing home.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We are here to help if you are ready to work with a Los Angeles estate planning lawyer to develop a plan for aging that culminates in the appropriate passing of your legacy.
You can send us a message to set up a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 310-337-7696.