Estate Planning – Planning for Incapacity
A comprehensive estate plan can, and should, do much more than simply provide a roadmap for how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. While each estate plan is as unique as the individual who creates the plan, there are some common additions to a well drafted estate plan. An incapacity plan is one of those additions.
What Is Incapacity?
People frequently associate the concept of “incapacity” with old age, dementia related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. While an individual in the final stages of Alzheimer’s will likely meet the legal definition of “incapacitated”, the definition of “incapacitated” is much broader than that. Understandably, most people do not want to consider the possibility that they could become incapacitated while in the prime of their life; however, the reality is that incapacity can strike at any time. A tragic accident, or terminal illness, can result in your incapacity at any age.
How Can Incapacity Planning Help?
Imagine that you are involved in a catastrophic car accident tomorrow that leaves you in a coma with life-threatening injuries. Who will make health care decisions for you? If it becomes necessary, who will decide whether you are kept alive with life-sustaining treatments? We can change the accident scenario just a little and assume that the same accident leaves you with a positive long-term prognosis; however, you are legally incapacitated in the short term. Who will control your assets during this time? Who will have the legal authority to pay your bills, perform maintenance on your home, or oversee your assets? If you are married you may assume that your spouse will have the authority to make all these decisions. While that may indeed be the case, it may not be. Moreover, what if you did not want your spouse to make those decisions for you? Finally, in the event that you are not married, a family battle over the right to control your assets and make decisions on your behalf could result from your incapacity.
By incorporating an incapacity plan into your overall estate plan you can answer every one of these questions by deciding now (i)who you wish to appoint to make health care decisions for you and (ii)who you wish to give the legal authority to control your finances and assets in the event of your incapacity.
The estate planning attorneys at Law Offices of Richard B. Schneider, LLC understand the need for incapacity planning as well as the legal steps necessary to incorporate an incapacity plan into your estate plan. Though the chances are slim that you will benefit from your incapacity plan during the prime of your life, just knowing that you have one in place will provide you with peace of mind. Contact the team today by calling 503-241-1215 or through our online contact form so that we can get started helping you make the crucial decisions that will form the basis of your incapacity plan.