A well-constructed estate plan will not strictly focus on the facilitation of postmortem (death) asset transfers. It is also important to address the eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. We call it life planning. If you take the right steps in advance, you can outline your choices in various different ways.
Incapacity Among Elders
This is not a very pleasant subject to consider, but it is a fact of life that everyone should accept.
Once you reach the age of 67, your life expectancy is 87 years if you are a woman, and it is 85 years for a man. Clearly, life as an octogenarian can be challenging for many people. Illnesses, diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and other health afflictions do occur.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a great source of information about this horrible disease. According to their site, about 10 percent of all seniors have Alzheimer’s, and the figure increases to 32 percent for people that are 85 years of age and older.
Obviously, elders with Alzheimer’s induced dementia are not going to be able to make sound decisions at some point in time. Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of cognitive impairment, and physical incapacity can also make it possible for someone to communicate.
Accidents and Catastrophic Illnesses
Incapacity can strike people of all ages. There are thousands of motor vehicle accidents every day, and younger people are more prone to them than their older counterparts.
Catastrophic illnesses can also cause incapacitation, so everyone should address this possibility.
Advance Directives for Health Care
An incapacity plan will include a document called an advance directive for health care, sometimes referred to as a living will. This type of will has nothing to do with monetary asset transfers.
In a living will, you state your preferences regarding the use of life support techniques like artificial hydration and nutrition, resuscitation, and mechanical respiration. You can address each type of life-support separately, and your living will can also include your organ and tissue donation choices.
Another “life plan” document that should be part of the plan is a durable power of attorney for health care. With this document, you give an agent the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of you are unable to do so yourself. These would be matters that are not covered in the living will.
Due to provisions contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, doctors not allowed to share medical information with anyone other than the patient. To give your health care agent access, you should include a HIPAA release as another part of your “life plan”.
Financial Decision Maker
Your incapacity plan should address financial decision-making as well. Revocable living trusts are very widely utilized, and one of the benefits is the ability to account for incapacity.
You would act as the trustee during your life, and you could name a disability trustee in the trust agreement that would assume the role if it ever becomes necessary. To account for assets that are not owned by your trust, you could execute a durable power of attorney for property.
Attend a Free Webinar
We place an emphasis on educational opportunities, and with this in mind, we conduct webinars on an ongoing basis. You can learn a lot if you attend one of these sessions, and they are offered on a complimentary basis.
Need Help Now?
If you have already absorbed enough information to know that it is time for you to put an estate plan in place, our doors are open. You can schedule a consultation in Oklahoma City if you call us at 405-843-6100. The number in Overland Park is 913-385-9400, and you can use our contact page if you would like to send a message to either office.