When it comes to estate planning, many Oklahoma City residents may not expect that they could end up being the ones to handle the financial affairs of their parents. Sadly, not all people are able to enter their final years with their mental capacities intact. There are numerous age-related conditions, from stroke to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which can rob senior citizens of their ability to make informed and rational decisions.
How does this affect will and trust planning? According to AgingCare, an elderly parent with an advanced degenerative mental condition may not be able to plan out a will or understand what he or she is signing. In this case, the person would be considered incapacitated. Those who are incapacitated are not legally able to sign documents such as wills, because it would otherwise be too easy for others to take advantage of their financial affairs.
It is also important for those with incapacitated relatives to make sure their loved ones have the medical, physical and financial care they need. This responsibility often falls to adult children, states Alzheimers.net. Several steps may be taken to ensure an incapacitated person receives this necessary care. These may include legally obtaining a guardianship over the incapacitated person, as well as setting up a trust to handle long-term care. Legal guardianship essentially reverses the parent/child role, and allows the guardian to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated parent. Trusts outline specific instructions for trustees to distribute funds necessary for the best interests and well-being of the beneficiary – in this case, the elderly person.
It can be emotionally difficult for adult children to take on the responsibilities of caring for those who once cared for them. However, guardianship and trust matters for the incapacitated exist to protect those who are no longer able to protect themselves.