Some might solely associate estate planning with wills and other documents setting out what will happen when one dies. While this is a key role of an estate plan, it is far from the only important purpose it can serve.
For example, there are estate planning documents that can help people plan for what will happen if they become incapacitated. Two of the main ones are:
- Advance health care directives: They allow people to state what kind of medical care they do, and don’t, want to receive in the event of a major illness or injury.
- Powers of attorney: They allow people to name who they want to make medical and financial decisions for them in the event they are no longer able to make such decisions themselves.
Unfortunately, it appears that many older individuals may be putting off having these useful tools place. According to a recent survey, of people age 55 and older:
- Only about two out of five have health care directive/proxy documents
- Only around a third have durable power of attorney documents
- Only 18 percent have both of these types of documents and a will
Not having estate planning documents that address incapacity can cause lots of problems for a person. If incapacity were to strike in such a situation, there could be great risks of:
- The person’s wishes not controlling what happens next
- The person’s family facing added confusion and turmoil
- Family fights over what will happen with important decisions
So, it is very important for people to not procrastinate when it comes to using estate planning to prepare for the possibility of incapacity. Estate planning lawyers can assist people here in Nebraska with forming documents that are consistent with their goals and will help them and their family be prepared for the future.