Aging brings with it a higher likelihood of incapacity.
As we age, our bodies follow suit.
The brain is a common casualty.
In fact, about a third of seniors die either with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
According to a recent Press Herald article titled “Planning for Incapacity: Advance Healthcare Directive and Durable Power of Attorney,” these figures make incapacity planning essential.
What can you do?
If dementia or Alzheimer’s is in your future, a time may come when you can no longer make your own healthcare decisions.
Consider carefully who you would like to make these decisions on your behalf.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure your directives will be recognized.
Set up a general durable power of attorney.
The general durable power of attorney functions much like your healthcare directive.
It is kind of the "kissing cousin" to the healthcare directive, but for financial rather than medical matters.
After all, bills and taxes will need to be paid and accounts accessed even if you cannot do it yourself.
Do not wait.
There documents are not only for those who are old.
Really, any adult should have them in place.
The odds you will need them increase as you age, but you cannot risk inaction.
To sign these aforementioned documents, you will need to demonstrate mental capacity.
By the time you need a healthcare directive or power of attorney it may be too late.
Your loved ones could seek to obtain guardianship (personal and healthcare authority) and conservatorship (financial authority) over an incapacitated you through the probate court, but this can be costly and put undue stress on families.
It also means you have no say regarding who will handle your affairs.
The court could appoint someone who you know to be untrustworthy.
Taking steps now will bring peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order.
Reference: Press Herald (May 20, 2019) “Planning for Incapacity: Advance Healthcare Directive and Durable Power of Attorney.”