It is hard to know what aging will involve for you. Some people remain mentally sharp and physically fit well into their 90s and live independently their entire life. Others may start to develop physical limitations in their seventies and may experience cognitive decline not long afterward.
It is usually best to plan for the worst-case scenario even if you hope for the best. If you don’t have an estate plan in place that addresses your potential future incapacity, someone from your family or even a stranger who works at a nursing home might eventually go to the probate court to ask for guardianship over you.
Under an involuntary guardianship, you would no longer have control over your finances or your medical decisions. Creating a power of attorney now can help protect you from that disempowering situation.
Powers of attorney can persist even after your incapacitation
By the time you start to worry about involuntary guardianship, it may be too late to start planning to avoid one. When your cognitive ability reaches a point where the courts would declare you incompetent, you will likely no longer have the authority to create new estate planning documents on your own behalf.
Thinking ahead now about who would best protect you in that situation gives you the authority to essentially name your own guardian. Rather than worrying that someone will take you to court to declare you incompetent, you will already have documents in place to protect you in that exact situation. Those documents will continue to protect you even if you have lost your testamentary capacity.
What kind of powers of attorney are there?
Financial powers of attorney allow individuals to name someone that they trust to manage their financial accounts when they cannot do so. The person you empower can pay your bills and help you manage your assets when you can no longer do so yourself.
Someone named in a medical power of attorney can make decisions regarding your care. You can also draft advance directives that provide explicit explanations about your preferences regarding medical treatment.
Thinking ahead to your potential means as you get older can help you create powers of attorney that can protect you in the future even if you eventually need help with independent living.