Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Quality of Life Planning
An article I posted on Twitter yesterday asked the question, “Is a financial plan enough?” The article raises the importance of what the author calls “longevity planning.” Longevity planning means providing financial advice that addresses the lifestyle changes that come with longer life expectancy. For example, if you want to stay in your home indefinitely, will it need to be modified for aging? How will you get the care you need as you age? What transportation options are available in your area? Longevity planning involves preparation for accommodations that may be needed to maintain a high quality of life as individuals can expect to live longer.
Longevity planning shares some similarities with a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (“POA PC”). First, a POA PC addresses some of the same issues, such as health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene and safety. Second, a POA PC may include a plan in the form of instructions. For example, the person who gives the POA PC may have strong feelings about where they want to live, or under what conditions they would consent to certain kinds of medical treatment. If instructions are written in a POA PC, the attorney must follow those instructions unless it is impossible to do so.
If the POA PC does not include any specific instructions, or if the instructions don’t apply to the decision that must be made, the attorney must try to find out if the person expressed any other wishes when they were mentally capable. Those wishes could have been spoken or written down in another place. The attorney’s decisions must be based on those wishes, unless it is impossible to do so.
If the person did not express specific wishes, or if it is impossible to carry them out, the attorney must make a decision that is in the person’s best interests. In deciding what those best interests are, the attorney must consider, among other things, whether the decision is likely to improve the incapable person’s quality of life or prevent it from becoming worse.
Thus, third, a POA PC, in part, addresses quality of life concerns. Financial plans and estate plans have traditionally focused on numbers—such as the amount of money one wants to have when they retire or on the distribution of assets. But such planning can ignore the factors that are fundamental to your own and your loved ones’ peace of mind. As important as it is not to procrastinate in one’s estate planning, it is equally important to incorporate quality of life planning as a central element in one’s overall estate plan.
Thank you for reading.