People are living longer than ever, and it is becoming increasingly likely that you will live beyond the age of 85. In fact, if you are married, once you and your spouse both reach the age of 65, there’s a 50-50 chance that at least one of you will live beyond the age of 92. This kind of longevity is fantastic on the one hand because life is precious. But on the other hand, the longer you live the more likely it is that you will go through an extended period of ill health and possible incapacitation during the latter stages of your life.
The leading cause of dementia among senior citizens is Alzheimer’s disease, and the fact is that it is touching the lives of a very high percentage of our elders and their families. About 13% of Americans who reach the age of 65 are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and four out of every 10 people who are 85 years of age and older have Alzheimer’s. In all upwards of half of the oldest old are suffering from some form of dementia, and this can strip you of your ability to make sound financial and health care decisions.
A logical response to possible incapacitation is the creation of durable powers of attorney. Many people choose to execute a durable medical power of attorney and a durable financial power of attorney and name different attorneys-in-fact to serve each respective role. In this manner you can gain the peace of mind that goes along with knowing that people of your choosing will be your decision makers should you become unable to act on your own behalf at some point in time.
If you don’t have the appropriate powers of attorney in place it would be possible for an interested party to petition the court to name a guardian of its choosing to act on your behalf, and you would become a ward of the state. This is something to consider if you’re wondering whether or not powers of attorney are really necessary.