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What happens to my affairs if I become incapacitated?

Hubbard Snitchler & Parzianello

Estate planners may wonder what happens if they become incapacitated and if an estate plan can help them plan for that situation. An estate plan can include a plan for incapacity which will help the estate planner prepare for a situation when they are incapacitated.

Setting up a plan for incapacity

Estate planners should familiarize themselves with the documents they should include as part of their estate plan to account for situations when they may be incapacitated at some point in the future. Documents that can help with incapacity planning include:

Advance directive: an advance healthcare directive is useful at the end of an estate planner’s life if they are unable to direct their medical care for themselves. An advance healthcare directive allows the estate planner to express their wishes concerning the types of medical treatments they want and instructs an individual they select to make healthcare decisions on the estate planner’s behalf when they are unable to make them for themselves.

Living will: a living will includes specific medical treatments and care the estate planner wishes to receive or does not wish to receive if they become ill, disabled or otherwise incapacitated and cannot communicate their wishes directly.

Healthcare power of attorney: a healthcare power of attorney is used to designate a trusted individual that will direct the estate planner’s medical care and treatment if they cannot direct it for themselves.

Power of attorney for finances: a power of attorney for finances is similar to a healthcare power of attorney except that it is used to designate a trusted individual to guide the estate planner’s financial affairs if they cannot do so for themselves.

It is important for estate planners to know how to make a plan for incapacity. There are different requirements for each of the documents that must be met and each may go into effect at different times. Because incapacity planning is an important part of estate planning, estate planners should familiarize themselves with the process of building an incapacity plan.

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