None of us knows when we will die, other than the fact that we will die at some point. A healthy person can die in an accident at a young age, or a person with chronic medical conditions can live into their 90s. We just don’t know.
Mike Wallace, the well-known 60 Minutes journalist, lived to age 93. However, according to his son, the last few years of his life the man known for his sharp mind and interviewing techniques, suffered from dementia. Estate planning with power of attorney assignations, can allow an individual’s wishes to be followed in the event of dementia or an untimely accident that affects cognitive abilities.
Studies show that one in eight baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease after age 65. Of those who reach the age of 85, half are expected to develop Alzheimer’s. Without thoughtful and detailed estate planning, including power of attorney designations, many will leave their end-of-life decisions to court-designated family members.
According to experts, the power of attorney designation is very important to making the other estate planning choices work as intended. For example, if a person has a living trust, and is incapacitated by dementia, the person with the power of attorney would be able to transfer funds into the trust and manage the trust. Power of attorney is needed even for simple things, like picking up the mail.
There are several recommended elements of estate planning:
- Durable power of attorney
- Living will
- Advanced health care directives
- Living trust (revocable trust)
- Guardianship designations
The estate planning lesson that Mike Wallace offers us is that even those of us who value our intellectual capacity, can one day lose it. It is a wise idea to engage in estate planning before that day comes.
Source: Forbes, “Mike Wallace Death Underlines Need To Prepare Financially For Risk Of Dementia,” Deborah L. Jacobs, April 8, 2012
Source: Alzheimer’s Association, “generation alzheimer’s: the defining disease of the baby boomers,” 2011