While there’s no telling exactly what the future holds, we do know that each of us will experience some kind of decline, as we age. Whether that will include physical conditions, cognitive degeneration, or a combination of the two, there’s really no way to know. All we can really do is prepare for the worst case scenario, so we can feel confident that we’ll be well cared for, if we do become incapacitated as a senior.
How Will Medical Care Decisions Be Handled?
The fact is that someone must be appointed to handle decisions regarding your medical care in the event that you’re unable to take charge of your own care. If you don’t select someone yourself, the courts will appoint someone. When this happens, someone you find untrustworthy may end up with the authority to determine medical treatments, living conditions, and even how your days are spent. By creating a Health Care Power of Attorney or a Health Care Directive, you will be able to select the individual responsible for these decisions.
What Will Happen to Your Money?
This is another major concern, because a court-appointed conservator can make decisions regarding your finances and investments. This means they will determine how your debts are to be paid and can sell your property with the court’s approval. Again, by acting now, you can appoint the individual responsible for handling your financial affairs later, once you’re unable to act on your own behalf. This is done by filing a document known as a Durable Power of Attorney with the court.
You’ll Also Need a Living Will
Being incapacitated may mean ending up in a coma or being kept alive through the use of artificial means. You can determine who is responsible for making the decision to continue this process or to let you die by creating a living will. Through this document, you can select someone you trust to make the same decisions you would make, if you were able to speak for yourself.
Handling Your Physical Assets
When it comes to making decisions about real estate and other physical assets, it may be smarter to appoint two individuals instead of one. This type of joint owner arrangement can help ensure your wishes are followed, if you do become incapacitated as a senior. An attorney familiar with probate laws in your area can give you a better understanding of this type of arrangement and counsel you on what kinds of situations this type of arrangement will and won’t cover.
Who Takes Control of Your Business?
If you’re a business owner, you may also have to make arrangements regarding who will take control of your business, when you’re no longer able to make decisions. A business succession plan will let you determine if the business will continue and, if so, who will take control of the business. Without this plan set in place, anyone may petition the court for control of your business. You can also set out guidelines for the liquidation of assets and the distribution of funds, should the business close.
There are many aspects of your life that will be affected by your inability to speak and act on your own behalf. Whether you’re physically unable or mentally compromised enough that you can’t make sound decisions, you will need people you trust to step up and take control. You can only do this by making these decisions now, while you’re healthy. By working with an attorney who specializes in matters of probate, estate planning, and elder law, you can make these arrangements now. Contact Mindy at her office to find out how she can help you plan for your future care.