We always emphasize the fact that estate planning should be looked upon as a holistic endeavor. It encompasses the latter stages of life along with the inevitable passing of your legacy.
There are eventualities that elders face, and it is wise to prepare for them in advance. Along these lines, it is important to have realistic longevity expectations.
There is a life expectancy calculator on the Social Security Administration website. According to this tool, the life expectancy for a man that is celebrating his 67th birthday today is 85 years, and the figure is 87 years for a woman. This means that if you expect to live long enough to collect a full Social Security benefit, you will probably experience life as an octogenarian.
Though it can be hard to imagine reaching such an advanced age, it is quite common. In fact, the oldest segment of the population is growing faster than any other according to the United States Census Bureau.
Life is good, so increased longevity is a positive on the one hand, but there are some potential challenges that go along with it. A very significant percentage of elders become unable to make sound decisions at some point in time, and Alzheimer’s disease is the leading culprit.
It strikes approximately 13 percent of all seniors, and this number rises to right around 40 percent for the “oldest old.” This is the term that is used within the geriatric community to describe people that are 85 years of age and older.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s induced dementia will typically become unable to handle their own affairs, and this is not the only cause of incapacity.
There are steps that you can take in advance to prepare for this eventuality. First, if it is at all possible, it is wise to have a family discussion about what the future may hold. We know that each situation is different, but honest communication can be quite useful when people are prepared to work together cooperatively.
From a legal perspective, there are very specific steps that you can take. If you have a revocable living trust, you would act as the trustee while you are alive and well. In the trust declaration, you could name a disability trustee to assume the role if you ever become incapacitated.
You could account for assets that you may have in your possession that were never conveyed into the trust through the execution of a durable power of attorney for property. This would give the agent that you name in the document the ability to manage the resources if it ever becomes necessary.
From a health care perspective, you could include a durable power of attorney for medical decision-making. The agent could be the same person that you name in the POA for property, but this is not a requirement. A living will is a document that is used to state your life-support preferences, and this document should be included as well.
A third medical related document that should be part of your incapacity plan is a HIPAA release form. This would give medical professionals the legal ability to share your health care information with anyone that you choose to name on the document. Obviously, the health care agent would need this information, and you can add others if you choose to do so.
Attend a Free Seminar
We are holding a number of seminars over the coming weeks, and the sessions are going to be chock-full of important estate planning and elder law information. You can learn a lot if you attend one of the seminars, and they are being offered free of charge. To obtain details and registration information, visit our seminar schedule page.
If you are ready to take the ultimate step, we would be glad to have a one-on-one conversation with you in person. You can schedule a consultation if you give us a call at 310-337-7696, and there is a contact form on this website that you can use to send us a message.