Incapacity: the aspect of estate planning you have probably forgotten

by | May 15, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Creating an estate plan can give you peace of mind at any stage of life. If you pass away unexpectedly, your estate plan ensures that your loved ones have the support they need, your children will have a loving home and your business remains secure and prosperous.

What happens, though, if you fall ill and become unable to make decisions? What happens if you are the victim of an accident? What happens if you face the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in your old age? It is essential that your estate plan also prepares for situations that could leave you incapacitated and unable to care for yourself.

What documents could protect your health?

Depending on your needs, you can use a variety of documents to support your healthcare wishes. A healthcare directive, also called a living will, makes your intentions clear if you are in a health crisis. You may outline your wishes for resuscitation, pain management or organ donation.

If you have an individual that you trust to make medical decisions for you, establishing medical power of attorney could give them the ability to choose:

  • Which treatment you will receive, including medical procedures and psychiatric care
  • Who will act as your caregiver
  • What you will eat
  • Where you will live if you need long-term support like an assisted living facility

Any of these may need to be accompanied by a HIPAA release or authorization. This document allows the person making your healthcare decisions to receive critical information that would usually be limited to protect your privacy.

What documents could protect your property?

Other forms of power of attorney allow someone you trust to act as your representative in specific legal or financial situations. Power of attorney can allow your representative to:

  • Buy and sell property in your name
  • Oversee your finances, paying taxes and accessing your bank accounts
  • Make legal decisions on your behalf
  • Pay bills
  • Sign paperwork

Because of the power that these documents grant your representative, it is vital to select someone that you trust as your representative. Your attorney can help you explore these options, giving you peace of mind now and protecting your health and your finances in the future.