In reality, incapacity is much more common than many people realize. To wrap your head around the subject, you have to become cognizant of a surprising longevity statistic.
Most people expect to live long enough to collect Social Security, and once you reach your mid-60s, your life expectancy is somewhere in the vicinity of 85 years. Life as an octogenarian can certainly present challenges that you never faced before.
Alzheimer’s disease strikes four out of every 10 people in this age group, and it is not the only cause of incapacity. As you can see, this is a threat that everyone should take seriously.
It is true that there is a mechanism that would come into play under these circumstances. Interested parties could approach the court to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
A guardianship can provide some type of solution under difficult circumstances, but there are some potential drawbacks.
For one, if you are like most people, you would prefer to be the person that chooses who will make decisions on your behalf if it becomes necessary. When a guardianship is convened, the court makes this decision.
There is also the matter of disagreements among your loved ones. Everyone may not be on the same page with regard to the person that should act as your guardian. This can cause acrimony during a difficult time when family members should be coming together to support one another.
Yes, this is one of the many benefits that you gain when you use a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan. While you are alive and well, you can serve as the trustee, so you would have total control of the assets in the trust.
When you establish the trust declaration, you could name a disability trustee. This individual or entity would be empowered to administer the trust if you become unable to do so.
You could account for them through the execution of a durable power of attorney for property. The agent that you name would be able to make legally binding decisions on your behalf with regard to property that is in your direct personal possession.
It is important to address medical issues when you are devising your incapacity plan, and this is done through the utilization of documents called advance directives for health care.
One of them is a living will. Medical professionals can sometimes keep people alive indefinitely through the utilization of artificial life-sustaining measures when there is no hope of recovery. You can state your life-support preferences in a living will.
Health care matters that are not related to life-support can enter the picture at a time when you are not able to make your own decisions. To account for this, you can create a durable power of attorney for health care.
In order for the health care agent to be able to make informed choices, the individual must have access to your medical records. You can make them available if you add a HIPAA release form.
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We are here to help if you would like to embed an incapacity plan within a broader estate plan that is custom crafted to suit your needs. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 310-337-7696.