Many people consider estate planning as a way to ensure their wishes are carried out upon their death. However, estate planning also includes incapacity planning. Our Texas incapacity planning lawyers discuss reasons you need to plan for incapacity in this article, as well as the legal documents that can protect you and your family in the event you are unable to care for yourself or make financial decisions for yourself.
Five Reasons You Need to Plan for Incapacity
No one enjoys thinking about an event or illness that might result in their physical or mental incapacitation. Below are five reasons why a person should consider this possibility and plan for it now.
1. You can avoid court intervention.
By executing the legal documents your family needs to make health care and financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated, you avoid the time and cost of a family member petitioning the court for authority to make these decisions for you. A guardianship or conservatorship is not necessary if someone has executed the necessary documents to appoint agents or trustees to make decisions after incapacitation.
2. You remain in control of your choices.
If you do not plan for incapacitation, a judge intervenes and makes decisions for you. The person appointed by the judge to serve as a guardian or conservator may not be the person you would choose to make decisions for you.
3. You control end-of-life medical decisions.
As part of the planning process, you can execute documents that direct physicians to withhold life-sustaining treatments, if that is your desire. It can be difficult for family members to make end-of-life medical decisions. However, if you appoint an agent to carry out your decisions, it can remove this burden from your family members.
4. Protect eligibility for government benefits.
You may need assistance paying for long-term care if you become incapacitated. By planning for incapacitation, you can use various estate planning tools to help ensure you will be eligible for Medicaid and other government assistance.
5. Plan for the transfer of your business to a successor.
If you are a business owner, transferring management of your business can be a complicated matter if you become incapacitated. With a Business Succession Plan, you can choose who will manage your business and how your business will be transferred if you are no longer able to make these decisions because you are incapacitated.
Legal Documents Available for Plan for Incapacity
Several estate planning documents are very helpful when planning for incapacitation. Some of the documents you may want to discuss with a Texas estate planning attorney include:
- General Durable Power of Attorney allows an agent you choose to make financial decisions for you and manage your property.
- A Living Trust holds title to property as a separate legal entity. You can serve as the trustee and maintain control of your property. However, if you become incapacitated, a successor trustee that you choose assumes control of the trust and manages the trust assets for your benefit. Upon your death, the assets are transferred to the beneficiaries you choose according to the terms of the trust.
- HIPAA Authorizations allow your family members to access your medical records and discuss your health care with your medical team.
- A Medical Power of Attorney gives an agent you choose the authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
- Living Wills allow you to make decisions regarding end-of-life care and medical treatment. You can appoint an agent in your living will to carry out these wishes.
Contact a Texas Estate Planning Attorney for More Information
Individuals who plan for incapacitation have the peace of mind of knowing their wishes will be carried out even if they are unable to verbalize these wishes. They also protect their family by reducing the stress, time, and cost often associated with incapacitation.
If you have questions or desire more information, schedule a consult with one of our experienced estate-planning lawyers today to discuss your situation.