Estate Planning attorneys help people address certain unpleasant realities that seniors often face. The subjects are not a lot of fun to talk about, but it is important to address them head on when you are planning your estate.
Everyone has heard of Alzheimer’s disease, but many are surprised when they find out how widespread it has become. It strikes about 13 percent of all seniors, and the figure rises to 32 percent for people that are 85 years of age and older.
If you think that most people do not live this long because the average life expectancy in the United States is 78, there is another factor that you may be overlooking. This figure includes people of all ages that pass away, but life expectancy goes up as you get older.
The Social Security Administration has a life expectancy calculator on its website, and it shows that a man that is turning 67 today has a life expectancy of 85 years, and it is 87 years for a woman.
This is the age at which you can collect your full Social Security benefit if you were born in 1960 or later, and most people expect to live long enough to receive their benefits. These statistics put the matter into perspective, and Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of dementia.
Plus, in addition to cognitive impairment, there are those that cannot handle their own affairs because of serious medical conditions of various kinds.
The state can be petitioned to appoint a conservator to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated without making any plans for it in advance. You probably don’t want the government to make this type of decision for you, and you can prevent a conservatorship.
Your estate plan should include an incapacity component so you are prepared for this eventuality. If you take the right steps in advance, there will be no need for the state to appoint a conservator because your own handpicked decision-makers will be in place.
A living trust is a very effective estate planning device that can be the ideal asset transfer vehicle for a wide range of people. There are a number of benefits, and the ability to prepare for possible incapacity is one of them.
The trustee is the administrator that controls the assets in the trust. You would act as the trustee while you are alive and well, so you would not lose access to your assets.
When you are drawing up the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to administer the trust after your death. You can also give this person or anyone else that you choose the power to act as the administrator if you become incapacitated.
To name a representative to handle assets that are not held by a trust, you can empower an agent in a durable power of attorney for property. Even if you have named a disability trustee, you should have a durable power of attorney to account for property that may have never been conveyed into the trust.
Advance Directives for health care should also be part of your incapacity plan. A living will is a portion of the Advance Directive document that is used to state your preferences regarding the use of life-support techniques. Your organ and tissue donation choices can be added as well.
Medical situations can arise when you are unable to communicate that are not related to life-support. To cover this base, you can name an agent in a durable power of attorney for health care.
The final piece of the puzzle is a HIPAA release because doctors would not be able to share your medical information with your health care representative without your permission.
We Are Here to Help!
Action is required if you are going through life without a properly constructed estate plan that includes an incapacity component. You can schedule a consultation at our Burbank, CA estate planning office if you call us at 808-937-2335.
If you would rather send us a message, fill out our contact form and we will get back in touch with you promptly.