The “ostrich syndrome” is part of human nature; it’s unpleasant to observe that which frightens us. However, pulling our heads from the sand and making preparations for frightening possibilities can provide significant emotional and psychological relief from fear.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, more Americans fear being unable to care for themselves and burdening others with their care than they fear the actual loss of memory. This data comes from an October 2012 study by Home Instead Senior Care, in which 68 percent of 1,200 survey respondents ranked fear of incapacity higher than the fear of lost memories (32 percent).
Advance planning for incapacity is a legal process that can lessen the fear that you may become a burden to your loved ones later in life.
What is advance planning for incapacity?
In our legal system competent adults can make their own legally binding arrangements for future health care and financial decisions. Adults can also take steps now to organize their finances and estates, making it easier for their loved ones later.
The individual components of advance incapacity planning interconnect with one another, and it is highly recommended you seek advice from an attorney well versed in estate planning and elder law.
What are the steps of advance planning for incapacity?
Depending on your unique circumstances, planning for incapacity may include additional steps beyond those listed below. But at a minimum, advance care planning includes:
- Completing a Health Care Directive (also known as a living will or medical power of attorney). A living will describes your preferences regarding end of life care, resuscitation, and hospice care. A medical power of attorney form designates another person to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. A Health Care Directive combines both the function of the living will and the medical power of attorney. File copies of this form with your doctors and hospitals, and give a copy to the person or persons whom you have designated to make decisions for you.
- Completing a Financial Power of Attorney. Like a health care power of attorney, a financial power of attorney assigns another person the right to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity. The power of attorney can be temporary or permanent, depending on your wishes. File copies of this form with all your financial institutions and give copies to the people you designate to act on your behalf.
- Learn about Medicaid eligibility and long-term care. Long-term care payment assistance is among the most important Medicaid benefit. However, Medicaid is a welfare benefit and to qualify for long-term care payment assistance, you must have limited assets. Medicaid eligibility planning is a very complex area of law that is constantly changing. It is important to consult with an elder law attorney who can explain the process and discuss your options.
- Consider Legacy Planning. Your legacy is about the life you have lived, the lessons you have learned, the people who have shaped your life, and the values you share. It is about everything you are and everything you feel. Legacy Planning is about preserving and passing on your stories and what makes you “you.” Legacy Planning is a uniquely special gift you can leave for your loved ones, especially if you have concerns about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
If it is time for you to complete your advance planning for incapacity, contact us today to schedule your Personal Strategy Session.