As medical improvements increase our lifespan, the possibility of incapacity has also increased. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases make it so that many individuals lose their capacity to manage their financial and medical affairs before they pass away. Other individuals are victims of accidents and temporarily are unable to take care of themselves.
The purpose of incapacity planning is to allow a loved one to take care of you after you cannot take care of yourself any longer.
Correct Estate Planning Incorporates Incapacity Planning
Correct estate planning will take these situations into consideration and provide incapacity planning. This planning includes documents such as:
- General Durable (i.e. Financial) Power of Attorney: This document grants to the person that you trust and appoint the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf.
- Medical Power of Attorney: This document grants to the person that you trust and appoint the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf.
- Living Will: This document addresses “end of life” situations where there is no hope for recovery and you are completely reliant upon artificial means to prolong and sustain your life. You have the power to choose to either prolong your life or terminate life-prolonging measures.
- HIPAA Waiver: Federal privacy laws limit healthcare providers’ ability to disclose your medical records and information to individuals other than yourself. This documents lists the individuals that you want to have access to your medical information.
What Happens Without Incapacity Planning?
Without proper incapacity planning, your loved ones will be forced to petition a judge for the authority to act on your behalf. This process can take days or weeks. There is also the possibility for family members to fight in court to decide who should make these decisions, while will delay the court even longer. In contrast, incapacity planning allows your trusted loved one to step in immediately after there has been a determination of capacity by medical professionals.
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