When you are planning ahead for retirement you should consider the twilight years that will follow your active retirement years. With this in mind, you may want to consider the possibility of incapacitation.
Incapacity Among Elders
Incapacity is quite common among elder Americans. The most common cause of incapacity is Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are interested in learning some of the facts about Alzheimer’s disease, a good resource to tap into would be the Alzheimer’s Association website. One of the statistics on the site that is attention-getting is the fact that one out of every eight people who is at least 65 is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The older you get, the more likely it is that you will contract Alzheimer’s. Approximately 45 percent of people who are 85 and older have Alzheimer’s.
People who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease experience dementia. If you were to experience Alzheimer’s induced dementia you may not be able to handle your own personal and financial affairs.
Alzheimer’s disease is not the only cause of incapacitation. If you add in all of the other causes coupled with the increasing lifespans that we are seeing, a compelling picture coalesces. Incapacity is a very distinct possibility if you do in fact live to an advanced age.
Who Steps In?
If you were to become incapacitated, who would step in to handle your affairs? This is a question that you can answer yourself through the execution of legally binding devices called durable powers of attorney.
You are probably aware of the fact that in general, a power of attorney is used to name someone to act on your behalf. A power of attorney that is not durable will not remain in effect if the grantor becomes incapacitated. This is why durable powers of attorney are used to account for the possibility of incapacity.
If you execute durable powers of attorney in advance of becoming incapacitated, your own hand-picked decision-makers will be in place. These agents or attorneys in fact will be empowered to make decisions on your behalf.
We are talking about agents in the plural because you could execute two different durable powers of attorney: one for health care decisions, and one for financial decision-making.
You would then have the freedom to appoint two different respective attorneys in fact if this is your choice.
If you do not take action to appoint your own chosen decision-makers, the state could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to take over your affairs in the event of your incapacitation.
Guardianship proceedings can sometimes be contentious and time-consuming. In addition, the individual that is empowered by the state to take over your affairs may not be someone that you would have chosen.
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Ryan M. Denman and Dennis D. Duffy
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