The year 2019 is coming to an end and many Californians are anticipating the beginning of a new year. Thoughts often turn to one's legacy, which can lead to thoughts concerning estate planning and providing for the next generation. The importance of having a comprehensive estate plan in place is becoming more widely recognized. But what documents comprise a comprehensive estate plan? Health care directives may be among the most important.
The California population is aging and many seniors live alone. A sad medical statistic reveals that many of these people may be in danger of having their financial affairs taken over by a stranger. People over 50 are at an increased risk of falls that can result in broken hips. One in three of those people will become incapacitated and die within 12 months of the fall. Failure to designate a power of attorney or create a health care directive can result in someone unknown to the individual making medical and financial decisions.
A term that is bandied about in the estate planning community refers to medical directives. They have become a popular component of comprehensive estate plans in California but there are different types of documents that address different issues. Two examples of health care directives are a living will and a DNR, a "do-not-resuscitate" order.
People frequently know the expiration dates on food in the refrigerator, a driver's license, medication and even a passport. One expiration date no one can know, in California or anywhere, is one's own. Coy Luther Perry III, better known as Luke Perry, the actor, died March 9 after suffering two strokes. He was just 52 years old. He had had a cancer scare in 2015 and established an estate plan at that time, most likely including a medical power of attorney.
People are living longer in California and in many cases they are remaining healthy well into their later years. Eventually, age will catch up with a person and one's health can begin to fail. Health care directives can specify to one's family exactly what one's desires and directives are regarding end-of-life care or care if one becomes incapacitated.
As people are living longer lives in California, their health does not always keep up with the elapsed time. Dementia is a term that is being heard more and more often. Sadly, it can negatively impact the care and well-being of those suffering from the malady. There have been many names in the news of elderly celebrities who are embroiled in legal battles over their care and finances. Such names as Tim Conway, Casey Kasem and Nichelle Nichols are all subjects of legal disputes with their families over such things as health care directives.
Estate planning is something that's been in the news in California a lot lately, especially with so many celebrities with sizable estates having recently passed away without having a will or trust in place. It may cause others to think they should establish a plan but the number of documents and the process itself can seem a little daunting. One term that is heard a lot but may not be understood is power of attorney.
Estate planning is not just for the rich and famous. However, the rich and famous are not immune to estate planning mistakes. From failing to have an estate plan to being exploited by the people to whom they granted power of attorney, they have taken missteps that others can learn from in California.
Most people think of estate planning and wills, but there are other elements that can assist the individual during times of need while still living. A medical power of attorney is one such element of a complete estate plan that an individual in California can utilize to assist him or her while alive and in need of extra support. The medical POA enables the individual to assign a person to make medical decisions on his or her behalf if he or she is incapacitated.
Some children watch their parents get older and wonder how they will handle the needs of their parents as they age. If the parent becomes ill or otherwise unable to manage his or her finances and health care decisions, who can help? In California, a parent may choose to assign a power of attorney to one of his or her children so that the individual can help the parent in the event of illness or emergency.