No one likes to think about the possibility of one day not being capable of handling their own affairs. If you are like many people, you may be taking a “bury my head in the sand” approach to the possibility. Incapacity though can happen to anyone and it is not limited to the elderly. While your chances certainly go up as you age, a catastrophic car wreck or debilitating disease could leave you incapacitated at any time in your life. Are you prepared? If you are like the majority of people, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.”
If you aren’t prepared then here is what could happen. Anyone, from your spouse to your neighbor could petition a court to become your conservator, guardian, or both. While state laws vary, a conservator is usually given control of your estate, including your money, while a guardian is given control of you and your daily decisions. Hopefully, the court will appoint someone trustworthy and who has your best interests at heart – hopefully. This person will then be able to do things like write checks on your accounts, decide where you live and choose what doctors you see. If this sounds scary to you, then take some simple steps now to avoid letting a court decide later.
Estate planning tools such as a living will, durable power of attorney, voluntary conservatorship, or a revocable trust all allow you to decide now who will have control over everything from your healthcare to your money in the event you ever become incapacitated and unable to control those things yourself. Talk to your estate planning attorney now before it is too late.