A lot of people think of estate planning as a strictly financial endeavor. You arrange for the postmortem transfer of your assets, and that’s the long and short of it. In reality, a properly constructed estate plan will also address end-of-life eventualities.
It is very difficult to wrap your head around a stage of life that you have not experienced. Throughout most of your life, you simply learn as you go. The road can be a bit rocky at times, but you have the ability to adapt and evolve when you are relatively young and strong.
However, the final stage is in another category. There is a life expectancy calculator on the Social Security Administration website. If you plug in hypothetical numbers, a woman that is turning 67 today is expected to live for another 20 years or so. For a man of this age, the life expectancy is 85 years.
Without question, many people that are in their 80s become unable to handle their own affairs to one extent or another. There can be physical limitations, and cognitive impairment is common among the oldest old. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 32 percent of people that are 85 years of age and older have contracted the disease.
Now that we have provided some of the necessary background information, we can take a look at advance directives. A living will is one of these advanced directives for health care.
This type of will is used to record your life support utilization choices in a legally binding manner. You can also express your organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication decisions in a living will.
Medical scenarios that are not related to life support utilization can arise when you are unable to communicate sound decisions. To account for this type of circumstance, you can name a decision-maker in a durable power of attorney for health care.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted to protect patient privacy. A provision contained within it makes it illegal for doctors to share medical information with anyone other than the patient unless a HIPAA release has been signed. You can give your health care agent the necessary access if you include one of these documents.
Elder Financial Abuse
The National Council on Aging tells us that up to five million people are victimized by instances of elder abuse each year. In addition to physical and emotional abuse, financial abuse is running rampant. They estimate that a minimum of $36.5 billion is lost annually.
It is impossible for experts to estimate the losses with true accuracy, because the vast majority of cases go unreported. In most of these instances, the victim is trying to protect a family member or “friend” that is actually the perpetrator. Plus, many of them do not want to alienate a needed caregiver.
All of the above in mind, you can also name someone to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacity. A durable power of attorney for property can be used to accomplish this objective. The “durable” designation is key, because this type of power of attorney remains in effect upon the incapacitation of the grantor.
If you are using a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, you will be the trustee while you are living. You name a successor to assume the role after your death. When you are drawing up the trust, you can give the successor the power to manage the trust if you become incapacitated.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
Action is required if you are going through life without a comprehensive plan. You can schedule a consultation at our Burbank, CA estate planning office if you give us a call at 818-937-2335. There is also a contact form on this site you can use if you would rather send us a message.