Some people look at estate planning as something that is only relevant to senior citizens. In fact, it could be argued that estate planning is more important for younger adults, especially parents with dependent children.
If you are a young parent, what would happen to your children if both parents were to pass away together in an accident? This question is even more profound if you are single. This possible scenario is one reason why estate planning is important for younger adults.
To account for this type of situation, you could nominate a guardian when you create a last will. If your children were ever in need of guardianship, it is likely that the court would empower the guardian that was nominated in the will to care for the children.
In some states, a guardian could be appointed by the court to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated adult. We practice law in California, and things are somewhat different in our state. In California, a guardian would manage the affairs of a child, and a conservator would act on behalf of an adult who is incapacitated.
A conservatorship can provide a solution to a difficult situation, so it is not inherently negative. However, the choice would be out of your hands if the state was petitioned to appoint a conservator to make decisions on your behalf. This is why incapacity planning is recommended.
To prevent a conservatorship proceeding, you could execute a durable financial power of attorney or, better yet, a comprehensive revocable living trust. Since the power of attorney is durable, it would remain in effect, even if you become incapacitated as would the trust. In the event of your incapacitation, the agent or trustee that you named in the document would be empowered to manage your financial affairs.
Your incapacity plan should also include an advance directives for health care to name a medical decision-maker and record your preference regarding the utilization of artificial life-support measures like mechanical respiration and artificial nutrition and hydration.
Importance of Planning
Incapacity planning may seem irrelevant to you when you are healthy and fully capable of handling your affairs. This is understandable, but things change. Once you reach the age of 65, it becomes likely that you will live into your eighties. Around 45 percent of people who are at least 85 are suffering from some degree of Alzheimer’s disease, and this is not the only cause of incapacitation.
When you digest these facts, you can see why incapacity planning is important.
Schedule a Consultation
If you would like to discuss incapacity planning with a licensed professional, our firm can help. We offer consultations, and you can contact us through this page to set up an appointment: Sacramento CA Incapacity Planning.
To learn more, please download our free Estate Planning in California here.