It is important to plan ahead for the eventualities of aging in a pragmatic manner. It may not be the most pleasant thing to consider, but many people become incapacitated late in their lives. Who would handle your affairs in the event of your incapacitation? This is a question that you can answer yourself if you take the appropriate action.
If you do not plan ahead for the possibility of future incapacity, the state could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf. On the one hand, a guardianship proceeding is a useful mechanism. A representative would be appointed by the court to handle your affairs if you become unable to make sound decisions on your own.
There are however some disadvantages that go along with a guardianship. For one, the guardian that is appointed by the court may not be someone that you would have chosen yourself.
There is also the matter of potential disagreements among your loved ones when this type of situation winds up in court. Everyone may not agree with regard to the correct course of action.
Another disadvantage is the time consumption. A guardianship proceeding is not going to run its course overnight. While the matter is held up in court, important decisions may be left dangling.
Durable Powers of Attorney
You can overcome the disadvantages of a guardianship through the creation of legal devices called durable powers of attorney. With a durable power of attorney you name someone who will be empowered to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
The durable designation is important. A power of attorney that is not durable would no longer be in effect if the grantor was to become incapacitated.
We are using the plural here because you could execute two different powers of attorney: one for health care decision-making, and one for your financial affairs. The durable power of attorney for health care is sometimes called a health care proxy.
If you have two different powers of attorney for each respective purpose, you can name two different representatives. The person who is best suited to handle your financial affairs may not be the same person that you would want to empower to act as your health care representative.
In addition to your durable powers of attorney, your incapacity plan should also include an advance directive for health care called a living will. With a living will you state your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures if you were in a terminal condition and unable to communicate.
Free Incapacity Planning Report
We have prepared a special report that examines end-of-life decisions. If you would like to learn about the subject in depth, download your copy of this free report.
You can access the report through this link: Free Incapacity Planning Report.