Planning for the possibility of incapacity, decline and dementia

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Estate Planning |

The best estate plan possible doesn’t just list someone’s assets and name the people who should inherit those resources. Estate plans can also address future needs, including the possibility of incapacity later in life.

A medical emergency like a stroke could put someone in a coma. Age could lead to cognitive decline. Those with Alzheimer’s disease and other medical challenges later in life could experience dementia. All of those challenges could render someone incapable of handling their finances and managing their own medical care.

Someone who plans ahead of time for the possibility of future incapacitation can protect themselves from what is a very vulnerable situation. One particular estate planning document can make a major difference for someone who experiences incapacity later in life.

Durable powers of attorney extend lasting protection

Someone who drafts durable power of attorney paperwork has protection from a scenario in which the courts declare them permanently incapacitated and incapable of managing their own affairs. Typically, that scenario might lead to an involuntary guardianship, which California calls a conservatorship. Another party could secure control over a vulnerable adult’s finances, daily life and medical decisions.

Someone who has proactively created documents addressing the risk of incapacity can avoid a scenario in which the wrong party gains control over their finances and daily life. Durable powers of attorney are documents that retain their legal authority even when the principal who drafted the documents becomes permanently incapacitated.

The agent or attorney-in-fact that the principal named in their durable power of attorney paperwork can maintain control over their finances and daily care needs until they die or their condition improves. Someone with durable powers of attorney on record typically does not need to worry about a professional caregiver or the wrong family member seeking conservatorship.

Those adjusting to a diagnosis of a chronic medical condition or preparing for retirement may need to address the possibility that they could become incapacitated and require the support of another competent adult. Adding a variety of different documents to an estate plan can extend someone protection in common challenging circumstances that may arise later in life, such as becoming incapacitated due to health challenges or age.

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