The process of estate planning is of course centered around the preparation of your assets for eventual transfer to your loved ones after you pass away. But, when you start to consider the details in-depth you will usually come to the realization that most people don’t pass away one day after being in good health for the days, weeks, months and years preceding their deaths. It is not uncommon for people to go through a period of incapacity during the latter stages of their lives and it is important to take the necessary precautions.
How likely is it that you will go through a period of time when you will not be able to make sound medical and financial decisions? The fact is that people are living longer than ever, and the fastest growing segment of the population are those people 85 years of age and up. Upwards of half of the people who reach this advanced age are suffering from dementia to some degree, with 40% of the oldest old being Alzheimer’s sufferers. Though we have all heard about Alzeheimer’s, a lot of people don’t realize just how ubiquitous it actually is.
If you were to become unable to make sound decisions in your own behalf an interested party or parties could petition the court to appoint a guardian to act in your behalf. If the court granted the petition you would become a ward of the state, and you would not have control over the choice of guardian. To protect yourself you may want to execute two separate durable powers of attorney, one for health care decisions and one for financial matters . Durable powers of attorney remain in effect after the incapacitation of the grantor so you have decision makers of your choosing in place should you become unable to make decision for yourself at some point in time.