These days most estate planning attorneys would say they are experts across all segments of the wider discipline of elder law. Of course, this is not the case. Both estate planning and elder law planning require independent experience and expertise. And, it is true there is a lot of need for this type of expertise because of the fact that the United States is aging very rapidly and the older population is exploding. Senior citizens represent the largest age demographic in the United States and their numbers are growing at an incredibly fast rate; recent statistics indicate that some 10,000 new applicants for Social Security are filing claims not weekly or monthly, but each and every day.
Unfortunately there is a clear and present danger that lies in wait for our seniors. It appears as Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve all heard of Alzheimer’s but it is surprising to many when they hear just how prevalent this disease has become. Approximately one out of every eight individuals who have reached the age of 65 in America have Alzheimer’s disease. Examining even further, we find some 50% of the oldest seniors, those who are at least 85 years of age, have Alzheimer’s disease. It should be mentioned that they are the most rapidly growing subset of the senior population.
To summarize, more people are living longer than ever before, and the longer you live the more likely it is that you will contract Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer sufferers experience dementia which makes it difficult to impossible for them to make sound personal and financial decisions. This is one of the reasons why incapacity planning is such an important element to the modern estate plan.
Things like durable powers of attorney can protect you from a court-appointed guardianship should you fall into an incapacitated condition due to Alzheimer’s disease at some point in time. If you have not yet addressed the possibility of incapacitation from a legal perspective it may be a good idea to consult with an elder law attorney who will review your options with you and assist you in the formulation of a solid protective plan.