There are certain realities that come along with aging, and if you want to make sure that you are prepared for any and all circumstances that may come your way you need to plan comprehensively. Of course making sure that your assets get to your loved ones in an efficient manner after you pass away is a big part of what estate planning is all about, but you must consider the period of time that will precede your death as well. People are living longer than ever, with the oldest old being the fastest-growing age demographic subset. So when you are making projections for the future you have to recognize the fact that you may well live into your mid to late 80s and beyond.
With this added longevity comes the distinct possibility of mental incapacity due to dementia. Though everyone has heard of Alzheimer’s disease, many of us are not aware of just how ubiquitous it has become. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease strikes one out of every eight people who reach the age of 65. Alzheimer’s is more common among women, impacting 16% of females aged 71 and over. No less than 43% of individuals aged 85 and up are Alzheimer’s sufferers. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, and dementia can strip its victims of the ability to make sound medical and financial decisions.
This is why incapacity planning is so important. If you were to become unable to make decisions for yourself without having made any plans in advance, the court could appoint a guardian to handle your affairs and you would subsequently become a ward of the state. To avoid this you could simply execute a durable medical power of attorney and empower someone to make medical decisions in your behalf in the event of your incapacitation. Along with this you would also want to execute a durable financial power of attorney and name a representative who you would like to see handling your financial affairs should you become unable to do so for yourself.
Mental incapacity is not something that anyone is going to welcome, but it happens and it is something that must be addressed when you are formulating a comprehensive estate plan.