It is wise to see a complete picture when you are putting your estate plan in place. Yes, you have to state your wishes with regard to the way you want your assets to be distributed to your loved ones. At the same time, you should consider the period of time that will precede your passing.
Advance Directives for Healthcare
Your incapacity plan should address medical decision-making, because you may not be in a position to communicate your choices at some point in time. This will involve the execution of documents called advance directives for healthcare.
One directive that should definitely be part of the plan is a living will. Medical professionals can keep people alive indefinitely through the use of life-support in some cases, even if there is no hope of recovery. You can state your choices with regard to life-sustaining measures in your living will.
It is possible to address each different type of life-support individually, and you can include your organ and tissue donation preferences. If you have firm ideas about the use of comfort care medications, you can record these decisions in your living will.
There are medical situations that can arise that have nothing to do with life-support. To account for this, you could include an advance directive called a durable power of attorney for health care. With this document, you designate an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if it becomes necessary.
Because of provisions contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), doctors not allowed to release medical information to anyone other than the patient. To give your agent (and anyone else that you want to add) the ability to speak freely with your health care providers, you should include a HIPAA release.
Financial Decision Making
In addition to the healthcare part of the equation, you have to consider the management of your financial affairs. Aside from the end-of-life implications, many elders become unable to handle their finances effectively because of cognitive impairment.
Alzheimer’s disease strikes about one third of people that are 85 years of age and older, and it is not the only cause of dementia. Though Alzheimer’s is a leading cause of death, people can live with these conditions for an extended period of time.
You can account for financial decision-making through the addition of a durable power of attorney for property. If you are using a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, you can name a disability trustee when you execute the trust agreement.
Take Action Today!
If you are going through life without these important documents, you are taking a big risk. You should definitely make sure that your own wishes will be carried out, and this is the most compelling reason to take action.
At the same time, it is really not fair to ask your next of kin to make a life-and-death decision on your behalf. There can also be disagreements among family members if you do not assert your own choices, and this can cause hard feelings during a difficult time for everyone concerned.
When you work with us to devise an estate plan that includes an incapacity component, you can go forward with peace of mind.
Now is the time to put an end to the procrastination, and you can set the wheels in motion if you give us a call at (630) 568-8611. There is also a contact page on this site that you can use to send us a message, and if you reach out this way, you can expect a prompt response.