In anticipation of death, many people prepare a last will and testament to express their testamentary intent after death. Fewer people plan for the possibility of physical and/or mental incapacitation. I believe that durable financial and healthcare powers of attorney are a vital part of almost every estate plan.
Physical and mental incapacitation can result from mental illness, disease, or even traumatic injury suffered in an accident. Alzheimer's or another dementia could leave a person unable to make consistent reasoned decisions concerning his or her financial affairs or healthcare. Once a person is deprived of reason, he or she may not have the capacity to contract a power of attorney.
The possibility that a person will become mentally disabled in his or her life is not a remote one. The Alzheimer's Association reports that 1 in 3 Seniors die with Alzheimer's or another dementia and 1 in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's dementia.
In the event that a person becomes physically or mentally unable to handle his affairs, family members may have to petition the court to have that person interdicted in order to make financial and health care decisions on his or her behalf. This process can be difficult, exhausting and expensive. Effective powers of attorney, in most instances, help avoid this process.
Properly written, a durable general and healthcare power of attorney can empower a person to act on behalf of an incapacitated person in all healthcare and financial matters. That person would have the ability to make financial and healthcare decisions without involving the court. The importance of including this powerful document in your estate plan cannot be overstated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article is or should be considered legal advice. The information in this article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, and viewing or receipt of information from this article does not create an attorney-client relationship.