When famed journalist Mike Wallace died in April at the age of 93, he left behind a lifetime of hard-nosed investigating and aggressive interviews. He also, in the final years of his life, suffered what an estimated one out of eight baby boomers will suffer from: dementia. This disease, as well as other medical conditions, can rob us of our mental faculties, which is why it’s important to begin planning for the possibility now.
Lesson 1: Have someone else ready to make decisions for you.
If you become incapacitated, it is important to create powers of attorney that will give someone else the authority to make choices on your behalf. Powers of attorney are usually differentiated into financial and healthcare powers, each of which can go to a different person. However, because powers of attorney often have significant limitations and are not always accepted, a revocable trust is an even better solution.
Lesson 2: Give guidance.
Along with powers of attorney, you can also create a Living Will that will guide those making decisions for you. A Living Will sets out your healthcare choices in detail. With this document, your health care power of attorney will know what kind of choices you want made on your behalf.
Lesson 3: Act immediately.
None of us know when we may suddenly become incapacitated or be diagnosed with an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. What we do know, is that if you lose your mental capacity, you can not create any of the estate planning documents. Your only choice is to make them now while you are still able.