“In This World, Nothing Can Be Said To Be Certain, Except Death and Taxes” – Ben Franklin
But short term, we are much more likely to become incapacitated than to die. So what does it mean to be incapacitated? It means that we can not make our own financial or health-related decisions. This may be due to aging, making our incapacity permanent. According to the Center for Disease Control, as many as 13% of those over 65 will become incapacitated due to some form of dementia. For those over 85, that number increases to 50%. But in speaking to everyone, anyone of any age may become injured and have a temporary period of incapacitation rendering you incapable of acting for yourself.
This is why everyone, old or young, rich or not, should have in place what are called Advance Directives. Advance Directives are documents prepared for you wherein YOU decide who will be making the financial and health decisions for you. Without these documents, your family is unable to make these decisions without the expensive and time-consuming process of applying to the court for guardianship.
The financial Advance Directive is the Durable Power of Attorney. Here in Florida, you can give someone not only the power to write checks and sell or buy property for you, but you can give them the power to create or revoke trusts, give gifts, and other estate planning acts that may be very useful in preserving your life savings so that it is available to you and your family.
The Health Advance Directives include the Designation of Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and Designation of PreNeed Guardian. The Designation of Health Care Surrogate appoints someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable. A designation of PreNeed Guardian empowers a loved one to make or change your living arrangements. Finally, in a Living Will, you will spell out specifically what and how much medical care and artificial and life-sustaining treatment you want at the end of your life. This is very important because although your designated Health Care Surrogate can make this decision for you if you are unable, that is a terrible burden to place on someone who loves you – to terminate your life based on what they think you would want. In a Living Will, you decide, today, what makes sense to you so that when the time comes, and that time will be emotional for everyone, your carefully thought out wishes will be known and followed.
At Florida Wills on Wheels, every one of our Wills on Wheels Estate Planning Packages includes each one of these Advance Directives. We even send the Health Advance Directives to your physician so that they are in place and on file when they are needed.