It is common for people to employ a very simplistic approach to estate planning. They think about how they will distribute their personal resources after they die and arrange for the descent of their property in the simplest manner possible.
However, the best estate planning dovetails with retirement planning and addresses all of your needs as you grow older. Incapacity planning is a key component to thoroughly legally protecting yourself and your dependent family members.
What exactly is incapacity planning?
Although you may hope to live a very long and healthy life, there’s no way of knowing what the future holds. A pulmonary embolism, a work accident or a genetic condition might leave you medically incapacitated at any time.
As you grow older, the risk of incapacitating medical conditions increases, especially if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, when you don’t have any advanced paperwork in place and become incapacitated, any member of your family or even professional health care workers that you don’t know personally could go to the courts to request a guardianship.
Incapacity planning means putting certain systems in place to protect yourself from that exact scenario. Incapacity planning typically involves someone’s lawyer drafting durable powers of attorney. These documents allow you to name people you trust to serve as your agents for financial and medical matters.
You can also create an advance medical directive that discusses your specific healthcare wishes. You might even want to engage in Medicaid or asset protection planning so that your family members can get proper financial support and don’t have to worry about your most valuable assets being at risk during your incapacitation.
Done properly, incapacity planning effectively allows you to name your own guardian should you ever be unable to take care of your own affairs. Incapacity planning can give you peace of mind because you know that no matter what happens, there will be trustworthy people to take care of you and your affairs. It can also help protect your family members against financial struggles and emotional distress triggered by your medical emergency and their vulnerable position during that time.
Thinking about your needs as you age will help you create the documents necessary for an appropriate incapacity plan.