It is said that “experience is something that you get just after you need it.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, and that’s the way life is in many ways. You cannot fully understand something until you have experienced it, and it is not always easy to learn these lessons.
This certainly enters the picture when it comes to planning ahead for the eventualities of aging. When you have been perfectly capable of handling all of your own affairs throughout your life, it can be hard to imagine being in a different situation.
In spite of the challenging nature of this dynamic, it is wise to think pragmatically when you are looking ahead toward the future. Once you attain senior citizen status, it is statistically likely that you will live into your 80s. In fact, the oldest segment of the population is growing faster than any other age group.
A significant percentage of elders experience incapacity to one extent or another. If you do nothing to prepare for this eventuality, the state could ultimately appoint a guardian to manage your affairs. This is a necessary safeguard, but there are negatives that go along with a guardianship proceeding.
One of them is the simple fact that the person that is chosen by the court to manage your affairs may or may not be the same person that you would have selected. Secondly, people in your family may not agree with regard to the individual that should act as your guardian. This can cause hard feelings during a time when family members should be supportive of one another.
Decision Making Representatives
You can take the matter into your own hands if you devise a comprehensive estate plan that includes an incapacity component. If you were to use a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your asset transfer plan, you could name a disability trustee. This person or entity would be empowered to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity.
Durable powers of attorney should also be part of any incapacity plan. With a durable power of attorney for property, you can name an agent to control property that has not been conveyed into a trust. A durable power of attorney for health care decision-making can be included as well.
On the medical front, you should also have a living will. This document is used to state your preferences with regard to the utilization of life-sustaining measures like feeding tubes, resuscitation, artificial hydration, etc.
A HIPAA release form should be added to give health care professionals the ability to share medical information with your representative (and anyone else that you choose to add to the form).
Access Our Free Estate Planning Worksheet!
We have provided a bit of food for thought in this brief blog post. As you can see, a well-constructed estate plan will be comprehensive in nature, and there are facets that are easy to overlook. As a layperson, it is very difficult to know exactly how to proceed.
With this in mind, we do everything possible to provide educational opportunities to members of the communities we serve. This website is chock full of useful resources, and one of them is our estate planning worksheet.
You can learn a great deal if you take the time to work through it, and it is being offered absolutely free of charge right now. To get your copy, visit our worksheet download page and follow the simple instructions.
We Are Here to Help!
If you are ready to discuss your estate planning objectives with a licensed attorney, we are still here to help. You can send us a message to request a remote consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 860-548-1000.