Planning for incapacity is important for seniors and anyone else who needs an estate plan which is everyone. For that reason, seniors and estate planners alike should be familiar with the estate planning tools that can help prepare for incapacity.
Advance healthcare directive or living will
An advance healthcare directive can serve an important purpose to protect the estate planner. An advance healthcare directive is a legally valid document that expresses the estate planner’s wishes for the types of medical treatment they want to receive. The advance healthcare directive can also instruct an individual the estate planner selects to make medical decisions on the estate planner’s behalf if they are unable to do so at any point.
A living will can also be a valuable estate planning tool to help plan for incapacity. A living will allows the estate planner to record their wishes for their medical treatment in the event they become ill, disabled or incapacitated.
Healthcare and financial powers of attorney
A healthcare power of attorney is somewhat different from an advance healthcare directive or living will in that it appoints a healthcare proxy to make healthcare decisions for the estate planner during their incapacity if they are unable to make medical decisions on their own or are unable to speak for themselves.
A power or attorney for financial affairs names an individual to direct the estate planner’s financial affairs if they are unable to do so due to incapacity or otherwise.
Estate planning is not only preparing a will or setting up a trust but also includes making a plan for incapacity. For that reason, seniors should include a plan for incapacity in their estate plan.