Incapacity Planning by Robert Feisee

As always, the purpose of this blog is not to solicit any business or offer any investment, legal or tax advice. It is simply a discussion forum for issues that I see in my daily practice.

I want to digress from my latest discussions on real estate to talk about an issue I have seen a lot lately. The issue deals with the expected or unexpected incapacity of a loved one. If life isn’t hard enough as it is, try facing when you know you won’t be able to make your own decisions in the near future and will not have the abilty to perform what the government calls “Activities of Daily Living” (ADL’s – dressing yourself, going to the bathroom on your own, bathing, walking, eating, grooming).

Normally (if there is anything normal in this situation) a loved one has already gone down that road towards incapacity and lacks the judgement to deal with the situation when they come to see me. How does one rationally deal with this situation? I could only hope to have the courage to even face a disease like alzheimer’s, let alone devise a plan to protect my family from emotional and financial hardship because of my illness.

I think family needs to play a big role here more than anything to provide the kind of love and support needed to deal with this harsh reality. I think after a family has “circled the wagons” they need to get some good advice on how to deal with this situation. Some of the issues I see are:

1) Management of incapacitated or incompetent person’s property – who will do it? what needs to be done legally? can i avoid a lengthy court hearing that could drain the family’s resources and morale even more? how do i deal with financial institutions?

2) Managment of an incapacitated/incomptent person’s life- who will take care of him/her? who will make the medical decisions or him/her? how will they afford this care? what needs to be done legally? does he/she have long term care insurance? is he/she able to receive governement benefits (which are limited and confusing to discern)?

In my opinion, dealing with incapacity will be a common issue for most households over the next 20 years. In this regard there is a strong likelihood there will be a lack of resources on all fronts (financially, legally and emotionally) to deal with the situation. People are living longer and we will see more people living in an incapacitated state. I believe one of the most important issues today is dealing with the long term care needs of loved ones. This problem will not go away and will hit many families hard unless they address it well before incapacity sets in.