When creating an estate plan, many people often believe they are done once they establish their will or trust. That is wrong; there is much more to an estate plan than one document. An estate plan is also a way to prepare for your future, how you will care for yourself, or who will take care of you when you cannot. One step is to understand and implement incapacity planning.
When a person becomes incapacitated, they cannot care for themselves or their affairs. Incapacity planning allows you to provide instructions on what you want to happen if you are injured or become ill and cannot make decisions on your own. Whether from an accident, an illness, or old age, becoming incapacitated can happen to anyone and at any age.
Many people put off planning for this, feeling they can wait until they are older and closer to becoming incapacitated due to age. But sometimes, we don’t realize when our mental capacity is failing until it’s too late. And we never know when a tragic accident or illness may occur, leaving us unable to care for ourselves.
Incapacity planning can be temporary (in the case of an accident) or long-term (preparing for end-of-life).
Several different documents will establish your care if you become incapacitated. These include:
Each is a legal document and should not be written without the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. They are too important to write on your own quickly. There are more, but let’s look at the legal documents listed above.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney happens when you give someone authority to act on your behalf. This can include taking care of your finances and legal affairs. This person can take care of all your affairs, or you can name several different power of attorney, one to manage your finances and another to manage any legal affairs. A durable power of attorney continues even after you become incapacitated.
This legal document informs your family and doctors how you want your medical and end-of-life decisions handled. With this, you will name a healthcare proxy, someone who will make your medical decisions based on your beliefs. This must be someone you trust completely and who understands what kinds of medical care you want.
A living will communicate what you want for healthcare if you are terminally ill or become incapacitated. It is a legal document directly stating your medical concerns in certain situations. It may include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or to what extent you want life-saving procedures.
Knowing that you have begun incapacity planning will ease your mind and help your loved ones. With expert guidance from the estate planning attorneys at Estate & Probate Legal Group in Illinois, we can help make this happen. Contact us today at 630-864-5835.
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