Estate planning can seem on the surface to solely involve preparing your assets for distribution after you pass away. Of course this is the primary objective. However, there are other issues to consider.
One of the things to take into consideration is the possibility of incapacity. Everyone has heard about Alzheimer’s disease but when you hear the statistics surrounding this health challenge you may be quite surprised. Approximately one out of every eight individuals in the United States who have reached the age of 65 are suffering from Alzheimer’s, and about 40% of the “oldest of the old”, those are at least 85 years of age, have the disease. It should also be mentioned that more and more people are living to be at least 85 years of age, and in fact this is the fastest growing age demographic subset in America today.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in our seniors, and among other things dementia can prevent people from making sound decisions. To prepare for this possibility the wise course of action is to execute the appropriate powers of attorney. When you draw up a power of attorney you appoint an attorney-in-fact to act in your behalf legally, but a standard power of attorney does not remain intact upon incapacitation of the grantor.
So you want to execute a durable power of attorney that does remain intact should the grantor become incapacitated. To cover all your bases estate planning attorneys will usually recommend a durable medical power of attorney (sometimes referred to as a Medical Proxy) and a durable financial power of attorney. Of course, you are able to name a different person to act as a representative for each of these respective purposes if you so choose.