Living longer has been a blessing that allows individuals to enjoy more time with loved ones. However, the unfortunate consequence of living longer has been increased medical concerns and health issues that become more prevalent later in life. Similarly, many diseases which medicine is unable to treat plague individuals who are young and middle-aged. Given the uncertainty of the future, planning for unforeseen events such as the rapid onset of an illness or a serious accident that can leave you incapacitated is essential for individuals in all stages of life. By planning for temporary or permanent incapacity before it happens, you are able to protect both you and your loved ones.
At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC, we have extensive experience in helping individuals at all stages of life prepare for temporary or permanent incapacity. We will work with you to understand your life and how to best implement an incapacity plan to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected. Our promise is to treat you with dignity and respect – we understand that incapacity planning is a sensitive topic for many. If you have concerns for establishing an incapacity plan in Azle, Blue Mound, Dallas, Fort Worth, Haslet, Keller, Lake Worth, Newark, Saginaw, or throughout the greater Tarrant County, please contact our offices today for a free consultation.
What is Incapacity Planning?
Incapacity planning is taking precautionary measures to ensure that you and your loved ones will be protected during a period of temporary or permanent incapacity. Incapacity can result from a myriad of causes, but more common ones include accidents such as car crashes and medical events such as strokes that render you temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
An incapacity plan is comprised of several documents which establish who can make medical, financial, and personal decisions on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated. The basic documents in an incapacity plan include:
- Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
- HIPAA Release
Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incapacity or Later Need of Guardian
A springing Statutory Durable Powers of Attorney confers the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. The power pringing” because it springs into effect if certain triggers are met – in this case, if you become incapacitated. Examples of financial decisions that the agent can make on your behalf include filing tax returns, buying or selling assets, and managing accounts at financial institutions.
A springing Medical Power of Attorney confers the power to make medical decisions on your behalf. This document can confer general authority or can confer a limited scope of authority. For some individuals, they may wish to impose certain moral and religious limitations upon the agent’s power, such as refusal to undergo certain medical treatments.
A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates compliments the springing Medical Power of Attorney in that it communicates your intentions regarding end-of-life care such as resuscitation. The Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates may indicate that you wish to remain on life-support indefinitely, or that you wish to be taken off of life-support after one year of incapacity on life-support. Preemptively resolving decisions relating to medical care is important not only to you, but to your loved ones who may have differing beliefs on what you would want. By resolving these serious medical decisions, you can save your loved ones the pain that comes with challenging beliefs.
A HIPAA Release identifies who can access your healthcare information. Without a HIPAA Release, loved ones will generally not be able to access your healthcare information if you become incapacitated.
A Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incapacity or Later Need of Guardian (“Guardian Declaration”) establishes who is to act as your guardian if you become incapacitated, making decisions related to medical treatment and your financial affairs. The Guardian Declaration has overlap with the Statutory Durable Powers of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, but each document can be crafted in a manner to ensure your intentions are represented. For example, you may grant a Statutory Durable Powers of Attorney for an individual to prepare your taxes and a Guardian Declaration to another individual to handle estate matters such as maintaining or disposing of your house and financial accounts.
Overall, each document plays a key role in protecting your and your loved ones in the case of temporary or permanent incapacity. By skillfully crafting each document, we are able to ensure that your wishes and intentions are carried out.
Incapacity Planning Attorney in Fort Worth
If you become incapacitated without an incapacity plan, Texas state law and the courts will appoint individuals to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. There is no guarantee who the court will appoint, which is why an incapacity plan is paramount to protecting you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, when court-appointed guardians begin to make decisions, others with conflicting views of what you would want may feel the need to challenge the validity of those decisions which can tear families apart. To protect you and your loved ones, please contact our offices today for a free consultation.
Carey Thompson is an estate planning attorney that serves clients in Azle, Dallas, Fort Worth, Keller, Saginaw, and throughout greater Tarrant County.