A common misconception in society is that there is a perfect time for everything. However, that perfect time never seems to occur because there is always something of greater importance or extreme urgency that needs to be prioritized. In reality, if you continue to wait for the perfect time, you will realize that there really is no perfect time. Life is too short not to take action the moment you finally have an opportunity to do so. When it comes to planning for your future, there is no perfect time, but the sooner the better. It can be hard to come to terms with the fact that everyone needs a plan for their senior lives because that means accepting that you have aged and progressed to a later stage in your life. Rather than avoiding the thought that one day you will become old and require medical assistance, you should take action now in establishing a well thought out plan for your future and for your estate.
Oftentimes, it can be very difficult to initiate the conversation regarding creating a plan for the future with your loved one. Many individuals feel that their autonomy, independence, and power is being taken from them the moment they accept that they cannot handle managing everything independently. This is not true, rather you have the power now in deciding exactly what you want for your future, in the case that you will be unable to do so later. As a child, avoiding having the discussion with your elderly parent is only prolonging the harm and dangers of not taking urgent action. In the case that your loved one becomes incapacitated, they will no longer be able to make decisions on their own, meaning their best interests could be invalidated in the rush to find a reasonable solution. By creating a will, trust, and power of attorney, your loved one is guaranteed to have all of their wishes accomplished, as they will receive proper care both medically and financially based on their own preferences.
Filing for a Last Will and Testament:
A last will and testament serves to identify your loved one’s wishes regarding their property and other assets in the case of their passing. This document outlines their best interests as the testator, for they are able to select their heirs and what each heir will receive. In doing so, the individual will select an executor who will be responsible for distributing the assets. If your loved one suffers from dementia, there may be a time when they are lucid enough and have the mental capacity to sign the documentation and fully comprehend what the document entails. There are specific questions an estate planning attorney can ask to guarantee that the testator is in the proper state of mind and qualified to sign the documents. These questions focus on the individual's lucidity, regarding their ability to recognize and recall information. The testator should be aware of the networth of their assets, aware of their children and spouse, understand the nature of the document they are about to sign, etc.
Filing for a Power of Attorney:
Similarly to the actions of filing for a last will and testament, signing a power of attorney requires that the individual is in the proper state of mind. In this case, the principal, which refers to the individual signing the document, must be fully aware of the effect of the document. This would be the equivalent of signing a contract, thus the individual must be fully aware of exactly all that is taking place. This requires a much greater level of mental capacity and lucidity than filing for a will and testament. An experienced estate planning attorney can guide you and your loved ones through the process of filing for a power of attorney in the case of dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other impediment to traditional document signing. If it is determined that the individual is unfit to sign the document, then their family member will need to obtain legal guardianship in order to manage their loved one’s affairs.
Filing for Trust:
In comparison to filing for a will and testament as well as a power of attorney, filing for a trust requires a much greater degree of competency. Signing a trust is the equivalent of signing a contract, which is legally binding. Therefore, the signer must fully comprehend the entirety of the components in the trust to ensure that they agree with all of the information and the allocation of their financial assets. Oftentimes, individuals use revocable living trusts in place of a will, thus there has been some recent leniency regarding the qualifications for signing the trust documents. The best aspect of filing a trust is avoiding the lengthy probate process and still being able to select individuals as your beneficiaries. A trust guarantees control of your assets, as well as protection of your legacy, and privacy from the probate proceedings.
All in all, it is never too early to begin estate planning. However, it certainly is too late when your loved one has become incapacitated and unable to comprehend exactly what it is that they are signing. If you are unsure of the right time to begin your estate planning journey, keep in mind that there is no better time than today. For further Estate Planning inquiries please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2394 to best prepare for your future in selecting an attorney that works best for your needs.