There is no question we are living longer. It’s not unusual these days for people to live well into their 90s – even to 100 – and sometimes beyond. This is great! It allows us more time to enjoy our loved ones. But with aging comes the inevitable health issues that can prevent you from living your best life, and often times, managing your affairs can fall to the bottom of your priority list. That’s why it is so important to plan for incapacity and have the proper documents in place before a crisis strikes.
Why Do I Need to Plan for Incapacity?
Most people plan for their passing by having a Will or Living Will. Unfortunately, not many plan ahead for scenarios where they become temporarily or permanently incapacitated and become unfit to handle their estate or make legal decisions.
You don’t have to be old to be mentally or physically incapacitated. Sure, dementia and Alzheimer’s are the leading cause of impairment in older people. However, an accident, heart attack, stroke, or other debilitating illness can occur at any age, and at any time.
Planning for incapacity – as with any estate planning task – is all about being prepared for the expected and unexpected. There are several documents you need to have in place if you cannot make your own decisions.
Documents You Should Have
If you become incapacitated, these are the essential documents that will kick into play to protect you, your family, and your estate. They become effective once a doctor deems that you are impaired and cannot communicate your wishes.
If you do not have any of these legal plans at the ready, the court will step in, and could create stress, lead to expensive legal costs, and lead to conflict between your loved ones. If you don’t have a Living Will, Power of Attorney, or Health Care Proxy, guardians and/or conservators would be appointed – people you may not know – to make decisions on your behalf. And these decisions may not be what you wanted.
Steps to Take to Plan
Plan Ahead for Incapacity
Don’t wait until a life changing event happens. Be prepared and make your plans so that you can be in control, even if you become incapacitated. Having essential documents created, stored and shared ensures the protection of your wishes and your loved ones.