A lot of people think that estate planning is confined to postmortem asset transfers. Clearly, this is at the core of the matter, because there is no active estate until you pass away. This being stated, there is another dimension that far too many people overlook.
Incapacity is the inconvenient wildcard we are referring to, and it is not uncommon among senior citizens. There are many underlying causes, but Alzheimer’s disease is the leading culprit. Let’s look at some eye-opening statistics that paint a compelling picture.
Widespread and Growing
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading source of information about this terrible disease. They also provide resources for families that are being impacted by Alzheimer’s.
According to their research, over 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s at the present time. Since the elder population is growing, that number is expected to increase to about 13 million over the next generation. A third of seniors will pass away with some type of dementia.
This disease is the sixth leading killer in the United States, and it is more deadly than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined. From a financial perspective, the overall price tag is $321 billion a year. Approximately 11 million people are receiving care from unpaid family members and friends.
It strikes right around 32 percent of people that are at least 85 years old. Your life expectancy is into your mid-80s after you reach your mid-60s, so this is a looming threat that you should certainly take seriously.
If you do not take steps in advance to empower your own handpicked decision-makers, the state can appoint a conservator to make decisions for you if it becomes necessary. This is not a very desirable outcome because state involvement in such a personal matter is disconcerting at best.
There is also the matter of potential disagreements among family members regarding the optimal way to proceed. You do not have to roll the dice with a potential conservatorship if you take the matter into your own hands when you are planning your estate.
A durable power of attorney is a legal device that can be used to name someone to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. The “durable” designation is operable, because this type of power of attorney will remain in effect if you become unable to handle your own affairs.
For medical decision-making, you should add an additional power of attorney. You can name the same representative in each document, but this is not required. To give your health care agent access to your medical records, you should include a HIPAA release.
A living trust is a very effective estate planning document that is the right estate plan centerpiece for a wide range of people. There are many benefits, and one of them is the ability to prepare for possible incapacity.
You would act as the trustee while you are alive and well when you have a living trust. In the trust declaration, you name a successor trustee to assume the role after your death. This individual or another person or entity of your choosing could be empowered to manage the trust if you become incapacitated.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Webinar!
We are conducting some webinars over the coming weeks that will cover some very important estate planning topics. There is no charge to attend our events, though we ask you to register in advance. You can see the dates and obtain more information if you click this link.
Need Help Now?
Learning is important, but eventually, you have to take the final step. If you are ready to do just that, you can schedule a consultation at our Burbank, CA estate planning office if you call us at 818-937-2335. There is also a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message.