For many of us, creating a will and planning for a future when we are no longer here can be challenging to navigate. It can be an emotional process, especially as visualizing the end of our lives is not pleasant. However, it is especially important to create a clear estate plan long before you are no longer able to do so, whether because you pass away or you become too incapacitated to make legal decisions. Incapacity planning is a smart action to take now, so that your future and that of your loved ones is not left up to chance or external forces. A solid incapacity plan includes a set of preferences and guidelines that articulates your wishes, should you no longer be able to make your own decisions regarding your finances, health, or other similarly important topics. Here’s a brief overview about what an incapacity plan is and how it can be useful to you and your loved ones when the time comes.
Incapacity Plans Cover Many Circumstances
Incapacity planning involves putting a number of documents in place so that your wishes can be known and upheld when the moment arrives. Depending on your circumstances and vision for your future and that of your beneficiaries, you’ll want to consider completing a variety of forms that will address your unique needs. For instance, creating a living will can help you articulate what forms of medical assistance or interventions you would wish to receive, should you lose consciousness or the ability to make decisions due to a medical issue. You should also consider completing a health care power of attorney, which assigns someone you trust to assume the legal right to make medical decisions on your behalf if necessary. Similarly, a durable power of attorney for finances makes it so that you can designate a trusted individual to make legally valid financial decisions in the event that you are unable to complete such transactions on your own. There are a few other options for you to explore when it comes to incapacity planning, so it’s best to reach out to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can help you understand what’s out there.
Protecting and Enforcing Your Wishes
It’s easy to assume that we can delay putting an incapacity plan in place, especially if we are in relatively good health right now. However, catastrophic events can happen in an instant, and then we are suddenly left with no voice or control. If you are injured in an accident and slip into a coma and there is no incapacity plan in place, what happens? Well, there is no clear protocol for how these decisions are made. Usually, a family member or loved one will have to petition the court to appoint a legal representative—a lengthy and costly process. However, you’ve already put an incapacity plan in place, there is now a clear set of guidelines for how to proceed. Your wishes for what forms of medical interventions you would like to receive will be included, and the names of the health care power of attorney or durable attorney for finances will be identified. You and your family will be less vulnerable to those who may attempt to take advantage of the situation, as your wishes will be expressed in a series of legally binding documents, ensuring your legacy remains intact.
Take Action Today to Safeguard Your Future
While thinking through scenarios where you are no longer able to make decisions on your own can be unpleasant and even grim, it’s important to think through your preferences so that you can trust that your wishes will be firmly expressed and honored in the future. Your loved ones will be grateful that you’ve left behind clear instructions, protecting them from potential legal battles down the line. Who knows? You may even find that sitting down to create an incapacity plan gives you the chance to reflect on your life and consider what is most important to you.
Ready to create an incapacity plan in the Spokane Valley area? Give the experienced and friendly estate planning team at Legacy Law Group a call today at (509) 315-8087 to get started.