A life-changing illness or injury that takes away the ability to communicate is not something we like to think about, yet the likelihood rises as our life expectancy increases. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, affects one in nine Americans age 65 or older, and one in three for those over the age of 85.1
While it may be difficult to discuss, don’t put off selecting someone to oversee your medical and financial affairs. Additionally, knowing that arrangements have already been taken care of may reduce the stress on your loved ones during trying times.
Here are some questions to consider when meeting with an advisor or attorney about planning for incapacity.
What, if any, life-prolonging measures do you want taken if you are terminally ill or incapacitated? Who will make those decisions? A living will and health care proxy – also known as advance directives – will allow someone you trust to communicate your wishes to caregivers.
What will happen to your financial assets and debts? Have you appointed an agent under a durable power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf, or would you prefer a court appointed representative?
Are your bills and other financial records easily accessible to your agent or family members?
Have you updated your living will, health care proxy, or durable power of attorney? Have your views on life-sustaining care changed?
Are your beneficiary designations – which cannot be changed in a will – up to date?
Do you have insurance coverage for long-term care and disability? If so, do you know the extent of the coverage?
Does your living will address assisted living or other long-term care arrangements?
Finally, have you identified an agent – you can name more than one, including an institution – to act on your behalf? You may choose anyone you wish, and it doesn’t have to be a spouse or other family member. In fact, as these situations are usually emotional, you might consider an individual who you believe will be able to act objectively in a time of crisis.
Being prepared is the best defense against an unforeseen need. Ask your lawyer about setting set up financial and health care proxies and a durable power of attorney.
Sources and Disclaimers:
1Alzheimer’s Association, “2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” March 2014, retrieved November 20, 2014.
~Anita Srivastava is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Ridgewood, NJ. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives.
Article by Wealth Management Systems Inc. and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.
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