What is Incapacity Planning and Why is it so Important?

What is Incapacity Planning and Why is it so Important?

Many people mistakenly think that Estate Planning only includes after death planning such as Wills and Trusts, however it also very important to include incapacity planning.  Incapacity planning is the process of providing detailed instructions for how and who will make decisions about your medical care, personal care, and finances in the event you can no longer make your own decisions.  

Everyone needs Incapacity Planning.   As individuals become older, we certainly start to worry that incapacity could be more prevalent.  However, incapacity planning is not only for the elder.  Anyone who has attained the age of 18 should implement incapacity planning.  Although you may not yet be married or have children, once you reach the age of 18, your parents cannot speak on your behalf or make medical decisions for you in emergency situations unless you have given them the authority to do so through incapacity documents.  As no one hopes or expects to become incapacitated, you may be involved in a car accident or sustain an injury or illness that leaves you without the ability to manage your own affairs.

Take the opportunity to name a trusted agent to act on your behalf in during life’s unforeseen events.  An Incapacity plan is not a single document, rather a combination of the following documents:

Durable Power of Attorney – A legal document that gives authority to those named to make financials decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

HIPPA Release – This document allows others to access your medical care information.

Living Will – is a document that lets people state their wishes for end-of-life medical care, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.

Designation of Preneed Guardian – this document is composed to designate a person to serve as an individual’s guardian in the event the individual becomes incapacitated.

Health Care Surrogate – A Health Care Surrogate is a Power of Attorney that is specifically granted to make medical decisions. This means that if you are deemed unable to make medical care decisions, but a decision must be made, the designated individual can make the decisions on your behalf.