If you become incapacitated at any point in your life, who will manage your finances? You may think that you know the answer to that questions, but from a legal perspective you may not.
Incapacity can happen slowly as part of the natural aging process or can happen in a moment as the result of the tragic accident. Regardless of how you become incapacitated, someone will have to manage your finances. If you are married at the time you become incapacitated, your spouse may have access to some of your assets, but if you are under the assumption that your spouse will have automatic access to all your assets simply by virtue of being your spouse, you may be incorrect. Anyone other than your spouse will likely not have access to anything without seeking court permission.
The result of not planning ahead can mean that your family or loved ones may not have access to assets that are needed to pay bills or maintain the household. Important decisions that need to be made regarding your finances may also be on hold until a court decides who will be given permission to manage your finances.
The good news is that with just a little planning you can easily avoid a situation where you have no control over who manages your money. Titling property jointly and executing a valid and comprehensive durable power of attorney may be options. You also may wish to discuss a cr eating a revocable trust with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney as well which can allow you to appoint yourself as the trustee with a successor trustee also being named in the event of your incapacity.
With the ever increasing longevity trends in our society, there is an increasing possibility that we may become mentally incapacitated before we expire. Diseases such as dementia and Alzheimers increase with age. The time to address these issues is before one has become mentally incapacitated.