Planning for Incapacity
No one plans to become incapacitated but sometimes, as a result of an accident or injury, the unexpected happens. Planning for a possible incapacity allows you to make advance decisions with regard to your care and your assets, as
well as choose the person you want making decisions on your behalf. It is far less expensive to select an appropriate person in advance and it allows you more control. There are two critical documents you should consider executing if you are over the age of 19: A Durable Power of Attorney and an Advanced HealthCare Directive.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to manage your financial and legal affairs. It does not take away your rights to manage those affairs, but it extends those rights to another person as well. A Durable Power of Attorney would be used in a situation where you are unable to conduct your business and financial affairs yourself. For example, if you are injured in an accident, or develop dementia, the person appointed to act on your behalf could continue to pay your bills. Once you are deceased, this document can no
longer be used.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An Advanced Medical Directive is actually a two-part document which includes a living will and a medical power of attorney. The living will would indicate health care decisions in the event you are permanently unconscious or have a terminal condition. A medical power of attorney allows someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are incapable of doing so.
Planning for Death
To ensure your assets transfer to the person of your choice following death, you will need to properly execute a Last Will and Testament. A Will is a legal document that sets forth in writing how your property – which can include both real estate and personal property – will be distributed after you die. If you die without a will, you are said to have died intestate. If you die intestate, your assets will be distributed according to the law without consideration of any personal preference you may have expressed in the past. A lawyer can
properly draft your will to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death.