Estate planning is just one aspect of the larger field of elder law, and as elder law specialists we help our clients address all of the eventualities of aging. At this exact point in time elder law is going through an interesting phase due to the demographic realities of our country. The baby boomers are entering their golden years, so the elder population is growing by leaps and bounds. And when you place the matter under a microscope you find that the fastest growing group of seniors is the oldest one, those who are 85 years old and older.
When you consider these demographic realities as they affect your family, you can see why incapacity planning is so relevant these days. Today many people are living into their eighties and beyond, and may well experience a period of incapacity at some point in time. Individuals suffering from such an incapacity are unable to make medical decisions for themselves, and are leaving their family in a difficult situation unless they prepare for the possibility beforehand through the execution of a living will and a health care proxy.
With a living will an individual can spell out their health care choices so that there are no misunderstandings among their family members and between their loved ones and their doctors. They can address any medical issues that they want to, but the matter of whether or not they would want to be kept alive by artificial means if they were in an irreversible terminal condition is central to most living wills.
In addition to the living will a health care proxy is often recommended. This instrument is used to name a person to make medical decisions in on behalf of the individual should they become incapacitated and faced with a health care choice that is not addressed in the living will.