When you think about estate planning, you probably focus on the way that assets will be transferred to your loved ones after you pass away. This is certainly at the core of the process, but there is another consideration that you should not overlook.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a great source of information about this terrible disease, and they also have resources for people that are touched by it. According to their site, over 6 million people in the United States have contracted this disease.
It strikes almost a third of people that are 85 years of age and older, and one out of every three seniors will pass away with Alzheimer’s or dementia that is caused by another condition.
Clearly, people with Alzheimer’s disease become unable to handle their own affairs at some point in time.
In addition to cognitive impairment, there is another type of incapacity. Some elders cannot handle their own affairs because of physical conditions that have a debilitating impact.
You certainly do not want to crunch the financial numbers, make investment decisions, and pay your own bills when you have contracted a devastating illness.
If you do not take any steps in advance to prepare for possible incapacity, interested parties can petition the state to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf. You would become a ward, and though this is a necessary safeguard, a guardianship proceedings can be problematic.
First, everyone in the family may not be on the same page with regard to the correct course of action. This can lead to serious disagreements during a time when family members should be supporting one another.
At the end of the process, the person that is chosen may not be the individual that you would have selected when you were of sound mind, and this is another drawback.
Proactive Incapacity Planning
You do not have to cross your fingers and hope for the best when it comes to incapacity and guardianship. When you are planning your estate, you can proactively include an incapacity component within your broader estate plan.
Advance Directives for Health Care
Advance directives for health care are used to address medical decision-making, and one of them is a living will. In this device, you state your preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining measures.
If you choose to do so, you can express your choices for each individual type of life-support, and the document can include organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication preferences.
Medical scenarios can arise that are not related to the utilization of life-support. To account for this possibility, you can name a representative to act on your behalf in a durable power of attorney for health care
Doctors would not be able to discuss your condition with your agent because of HIPAA regulations, so you should execute a HIPAA release to give them access to your medical records.
A living trust is an estate planning tool that we recommend to many of our clients. When you have this type of trust, you would act as the trustee while you are living, so you would manage the assets.
You can name a disability trustee in the trust declaration to assume the role if it ever becomes necessary. To account for assets that are not held by a trust, you can name an agent in a durable power of attorney for property.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We are here to help if you are ready to work with a Cincinnati estate planning lawyer to develop a comprehensive plan with a solid incapacity planning component.
You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 513-721-1513.