The fact is that most people don’t pass away when they are in good health, right? So when you are planning your estate, you invariably find yourself rewinding a bit to the days, weeks, and months prior to the reading of your will.
This leads to the question of how long you should expect to live. If you examine the statistics you will find that the group of Americans deemed the “oldest old,” which is a term that refers to those who have reached the age of 85 and above, are the fastest growing age group in the United States.
Upwards of 50% of these people suffer from some form of dementia; 40% of the oldest old have Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to these problems with mental cognitive function there are many others that cannot communicate due to physical ailments.
So the facts would indicate that it is very possible that you will live beyond the age of 85, and if you do, you may well be unable to make sound decisions for yourself.
For these reasons and the simple fact that accidents and unexpected illnesses can strike people of all ages, it is a good idea to include advance health care directives in your estate plan. Most people choose to execute a living will with which they elucidate their preferences with regard to the medical procedures that would accept and those that they would prefer to reject in the event of their incapacitation.
In addition, a health care proxy or durable medical power of attorney is also recommended, and these are especially important for same sex couples. With these instruments you empower someone to make medical decisions in your behalf should you become unable to do so at some point in time.
As we all know, same sex partnerships are not legally recognized in most jurisdictions, so the execution of a medical power of attorney making your partner the attorney-in-fact is a must if you want to make sure that he or she has the legal authority to act in your behalf.