Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Friday, January 22, 2016

Planning for Incapacity

What estate planning documents will apply if you haven’t yet passed away but are unable to make decisions for yourself?


It is a common misconception that estate planning documents are only necessary in the event that an individual dies. However, a well designed estate plan will also make arrangements for the possibility of becoming incapacitated. There are a number of documents that describe your wishes should you become incapacitated or are close to death.

The first and most widely known of these documents is the durable power of attorney. A power of attorney is used to appoint another person to make decisions for you should you be unable to do so for yourself. A power of attorney can be appointed to make medical and financial decisions. These documents are flexible and allow you to give whatever powers you would like to the individual named as power of attorney. You can also elect to put the document into effect the day it is signed or at the time that you become incapacitated.

Another estate planning document that goes into effect if you become incapacitated is a living will. This document allows you to formalize your wishes regarding the type of treatment you should receive and any life-sustaining medical procedures you would like withdrawn at the end of your life. This document makes decisions easier for the loved ones who will be responsible for you at this time.

When executing advanced directives, such as a durable power of attorney or a living will, it is always important to also execute a HIPAA form as well. This Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act form gives another the authority to access your medical records. This can save a lot of time and aggravation for those who will be responsible for your medical care.

In order to have a comprehensive estate plan, you should consult with an attorney that has expertise in preparing these documents as well as those that reflect your wishes after death, such as a will and/or trust.

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