I have a Last Will and Testament so I should be fine ... right?
A Last Will and Testament is a great estate planning tool that ensures your estate will be distributed according to your wishes. However, in the last 100 years people are living an average of 30 years longer. Why is this an issue? A Last Will and Testament takes effect when you pass, but it does not protect you in the event of incapacity or disability. With the life expectancy drastically increasing, incapacity planning has become a must in estate planning. It is much more common nowadays for individuals to endure life altering events, i.e., dementia, Alzheimer's disease, accidents stemming from physical deterioration, prior to passing. If any individual has the misfortune of dealing with any of these circumstances, a Last Will and Testament will be of no use. It is imperative for individuals to incorporate methods specifically created to address this issue of incapacity into their estate plans. Common legal tools that are used in the event of incapacity are power of attorneys. There are 2 types of power of attorneys: 1) financial power of attorney, and 2) medical power of attorney. These documents allow you to appoint someone to manage your affairs on your behalf if you are unable to do so. There are also methods using trusts that ensure that your estate is properly managed in the event of your incapacity.
*Lawyer tip: Be EXTREMELY cautious about downloading these documents from the internet or filling in the blanks on a template if you choose to do so. If these documents are drafted incorrectly, then there may be unintended consequences if they are ever used. I highly recommend consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney.