The process of estate planning has traditionally been about gaining personal control over your affairs to make sure that your wishes are carried out after your death. This endeavor is of course still central to estate planning, but there is an added dimension that is sometimes overlooked. One of the most amazing demographic trends of our time involves senior citizens. They are in fact the fastest growing portion of the population, and the group of seniors who are 85 years of age and older is growing fastest of all. This increasing longevity is making incapacity planning a must if you want to make sure that you are prepared for any eventuality.
Decision making power is at the core of incapacity planning. If you were to become unable to make your own decisions due to either physical or mental incapacitation, and you hadn’t planned for it, the court could be petitioned to protect you. If the petition is granted they will name a guardian who will make your personal decisions for you, and this includes medical decisions along with where you will reside. A conservator will also be appointed to handle your financial affairs, and this individual or entity will have the power to invest the assets in your estate.
You can, however, maintain personal control of the matter and take that decision out of the hands of the court with the proper estate planning. You simply execute a health care proxy naming the medical decision maker of your choice. You then add a durable financial power of attorney and with this document you select the individual that you would like to empower to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacity. As simply as that you have a solid incapacity plan in place, and if you ever decide to change the attorneys-in-fact you are free to do so as long as your capacity is intact.
Legacy APC, A Trusts & Estates Law Firm is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.