In Making the Most of Your Estate, Milo Watts, Earl MacNeill's typical salaried man of the Nifty Fifties, is 43; Mary, his wife, is 38. Mac tells us three of their four parents are dead. Only Milo's mom survives at age 68. That's how it was in those days. At least that's how it had been. Hard-driving businessmen were expected to keel over with fatal heart attacks in their fifties, and many did so.
Yet life spans were already lengthening, and estate planning began to adapt. Planning inheritances for minor children lost prominence. Planning trusts for the grandkids took over. Some years later, at Merrill Anderson, Mac urged men to review their old wills with this warning: Your Heirline is Receding!
As life spans kept stretching, estate planning expanded to include living trusts for financial protection in old age … durable powers of attorney … living wills. Not to mention "Medicaid planning."
Durable powers of attorney were seen as a growing necessity, but not without danger. Wish I could remember Mac's views. Certainly he made me aware that a traditional power of attorney relied on the supervision of the individual granting it. If Mr. Gotrocks gave me his power of attorney while he sailed around the world, I could be in big trouble if he didn't like what he found when he got home.
The exercise of durable powers usually cannot be supervised by the individuals who grant them. Since the Brooke Astor case, concern regarding that hazard seems to be growing.