Part of an estate plan is a plan for incapacity that helps ensure the estate planner’s medical and financial affairs are attended to if they become incapacitated at some point. In addition to a will and a trust estate planners may want to consider for their estate plan, they should also consider documents that help them plan for incapacity.
Durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney is used to name a trusted individual to take over the estate planner’s financial or medical affairs if they are unable to do so for themselves. The trusted individual designated as power of attorney can pay the estate planner’s bills, manage the estate planner’s financial assets, make real estate transactions on behalf of the estate planner, file the estate planner’s taxes and essentially act in any financial capacity the estate planner could for themselves. Powers of attorney can also apply to medical decisions. A power of attorney can be set up so that is becomes active upon the happening of a qualifying event such as the temporary or permanent disability of the estate planner.
Advance medical directive
An advance medical directive allows the estate planner to outline the types of medical interventions they want to receive or do not want to receive at the end of their life. An advance medical directive can include which medical treatments the estate planner wants and which ones they do not wish to have. A healthcare power of attorney can also designate a trusted individual to make medical decisions for the estate planner. In addition, some estate planners may wish to have a do-not-resuscitate order in place.
It is useful to think of an estate planning as not only preparing for when life ends but also planning for an end-of-life period during which the estate planner may find it difficult or be unable to care for themselves. For that reason, estate planners should have a incapacity plan in place as part of their estate plan.