To plan your estate properly and comprehensively you need to take a mature and pragmatic approach and be unafraid to confront somewhat unpleasant possibilities. For your family, the only thing worse than having to address a difficult matter is having to do so completely unprepared, and this is something that you would do well to consider when you are planning your estate.
With this is in mind we would like to take a frank look at the topic of incapacity. A significant percentage of senior citizens become unable to make sound personal and financial decisions at some point due to physical or mental incapacitation, and this is just one of the stark realities of aging. Someone may have to make decisions for you at some point in the future, and you can decide on two different courses of action with that in mind. You can seize control and name the people who you would like to empower to make medical and financial decisions in your behalf in the event of your incapacity, or do nothing and let the court decide.
If you haven’t stated your wishes and selected decision makers, interested parties who feel as though you need protection can petition the court to appoint a guardian and conservator. The guardian is the individual who will make personal decisions for you. This decision making power includes medical decisions. The conservator will take control of the financial aspects of your estate, managing assets, making investments, and distributing the funds that are needed for your ongoing care and general well being.
To avoid the above scenario, you simply include a health care proxy and durable financial power of attorney in your estate plan. In the former document you name your preferred medical decision maker and in the latter you name your financial decision maker. In this manner you have stated your wishes should you become incapacitated at some point in the future and you are not subject to the appointment of a guardian and conservator.
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