Incapacity Planning


Ensuring That Your Wishes Are Carried Out When You Can't.

Unfortunately, it is not always enough to plan for what happens after you are gone. Advances in medical care and the continued prevalence of diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia mean that there is a serious possibility that, at some point in your life, you may be unable to make decisions for yourself. It is important to make your wishes known well before you find yourself in this sort of position. It is not enough for your wishes to be known, however. If you want to be sure they are carried out, you need them to be legally binding. Incapacity planning can give you control of what happens when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

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This control is achieved through a number of tools:

The Living Will:

Most important may be the advanced medical directive, or 'living will.' This is a legally binding document that informs your family and doctors what sort of care you would like to receive should you become mentally non-responsive. After the much-publicized battles of the last few years between family members who want to maintain life support and those that do not, the importance of this document should be readily apparent. Not only will it ensure that your wishes are met, it will protect your family from having to make this very difficult decision. If you prefer, you can also select an individual to have power over these decisions, should you become incapacitated.

The Durable Power of Attorney

Another important consideration is deciding who you want to be in control of your finances and healthcare in the event that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. A durable power attorney allows you to decide who you would like to have control of your money, and how they should be allowed to spend that money on your behalf. This can be as simple as designating a person to pay bills for you, or as involved as allowing them to actively manage your investment portfolio. You also have the power to designate a specific individual to talk with your doctors and make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

The Living Trust

There are alternatives to simply designating a person to manage your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated. Depending on your situation, you may be well-advised to form a living trust that will put your assets under the control of a trust managed for your benefit. This can be particularly useful in situations when you do not have a friend or family member who is available or appropriate to make decisions for you. A living trust can also help your heirs avoid the probate process.

Avoiding Guardianship Proceedings

If you fail to make these decisions in advance, the court will appoint a guardian to make these decisions for you. This can be an expensive and sometimes difficult process, which may result in someone making decisions for you that you do not approve of. The best way to avoid these potential problems in the future is to take action today.

Working with an Attorney vs. Fill-in-the-Blank Forms

You may wonder whether it is worth your money to hire an attorney to help you with these issues when there are so many cheap or even free options available online. You should remember that a bargain is only a bargain if you get something for your money. Online options may be cheaper than paying an attorney, but the unfortunate reality is that what you get online may not do what you expected it to do, if it does anything at all. The only way to make sure that your incapacity plan is legal and effective is to speak with an attorney that is licensed in your state.

The Attorneys of Findley & Rogers are experienced in helping people plan for unforeseeable events, and we are ready to assist you in making sure that your wishes and needs are fulfilled if you should ever be incapacitated.

Get started on your estate planning today

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