Every 70 seconds, another American family is affected by Alzheimer’s. Too often, I witness Alzheimer’s and dementia care and estate squabbles that tear families apart. When there has not been the foresight and cooperative transparency regarding how the family wants the patient’s estate plan executed, chaos and legal entanglements can ensue, irreparably damaging family bonds.
No one is immune to Alzheimer’s and the havoc that can reverberate from it. A recent Forbes article underscores the harsh reality, describing seven celebrity estates impacted by estate issues in the aftermath. Fortunately, proper planning can help you avoid the same mistakes made by these famous people, and people just like yourselves.
The first thing you should ask yourself is, “If I’m ever incapacitated and unable to care for myself, who would I want to make decisions on my behalf?” You’ll need to think about selecting the person or persons you want to make your healthcare, financial, and legal decisions for you until you pass away, and also afterward.
In the absence of proper estate planning, the court will typically appoint a guardian or conservator to make these decisions on your behalf. This person could be a family member who would never want to manage your affairs or a professional guardian who charges exorbitant fees. Either way, the choice will be out of your hands.
Furthermore, like most court proceedings, the process of naming a guardian is often time-consuming, costly, and emotionally draining for families. If you’re lying unconscious in a hospital bed, the last thing you would want is to waste time or impose additional hardship on your loved ones. And this is assuming your family members agree about what’s in your best interest.
Luckily, you can easily avoid potential turmoil and expense with proper estate planning. An effective plan would give the individuals you’ve chosen immediate authority to make your medical, financial, and legal decisions without the need for court intervention. What’s more, the plan can provide clear direction about your wishes, so there’s no mistake or conflict about how they should make these vital decisions.
You may be powerless to prevent incapacity. However, proper estate planning can give you control over how you want your life and assets managed should you ever become mentally incapacitated. Moreover, such planning can prevent your family from enduring needless trauma, conflict, and expense during this already trying time.
If you’ve yet to plan for incapacity, we can counsel you on the proper planning vehicles to put in place and help you select the individuals best suited to make such critical decisions on your behalf. If you already have planning strategies in place, we can review them to ensure you or your previous counsel set up your plan correctly and then maintained and updated it to agree with your current wishes.
Contact us today to get started. We are here to listen and help.