Those who have begun to take the process of estate planning seriously will invariably find themselves considering the period of time that will precede the actual trigger event. When you engage the services of an estate planning attorney to handle the legalities surrounding the transfer of your assets after you pass away you may want to consider creating a comprehensive plan that also addresses some of the eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. As unpleasant as it may be for some people to consider, incapacity is one of these contingencies and if you ignore it you do so at your peril.
To evaluate just how likely it is that you may suffer a period of incapacity when you enter your twilight years you need only look at the statistics. According to studies compiled by the Alzheimer's Association, as many as one out of every eight Americans who reach the age of 65 suffer from dementia, most often Alzheimer's Disease. But as you get older, the likelihood of contracting Alzheimer's increases. Some studies indicate that 40% of those who have reached the age of 85, have Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's eventually brings dementia along with it, and dementia can inhibit your ability to make sound financial and health care decisions.
This is why it is a good idea to have the appropriate durable powers of attorney in place as a part of your retirement/estate plan. The "durable" power allows the instrument to remain in place should the grantor become incapacitated. Most people will execute both a durable financial power of attorney and a durable medical power of attorney and may name two different attorneys-in-fact, or agents, whose experience or expertise is appropriate for each respective area.
If you don't have the appropriate powers of attorney in place and you were to become incapacitated, interested parties may have to petition the court to appoint a guardian to act in your behalf and you would become a ward of a person you may not have preferred or even a ward of the state. Providing for this in advance will allow a person to choose their own representatives in advance. This is a vital matter that ought to be part of your planning when you are preparing for the latter stages of your life.