When you are making preparations for the eventualities of aging it is important to plan for possible incapacity. If you were to become unable to make your own medical or financial decisions due to mental and/or physical incapacity, interested parties could petition the court to appoint a guardian or conservator to act on your behalf. You may have no say over who this guardian is, and if the guardianship or conservatorship is granted by the court, you could become a ward of the state.
The good news is that this can be avoided with proper planning. One way to make sure that people of your own choosing would handle your affairs if you were to become unable to do so is execute documents called durable powers of attorney. Because they are “durable,” they remain in effect even if you become incapacitated.
In most cases, two different durable powers of attorney will be used: one for health care matters and one for financial matters. You can select a different decision-maker to serve each respective role if you choose to do so.
If you were to use a revocable living trust in your estate planning, the trustee would administer the funds in the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Often the grantor, or the person who creates the trust, will serve as the trustee while he or she is alive and capable of making decisions. But you could also name a disability trustee who would manage the funds in the event of your disability; this could eliminate the need for a guardianship proceeding.
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