Comprehensive estate planning includes having a plan in place to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated during your life and can no longer make decisions for yourself. Incapacity Planning is a safety net which helps your loved ones help you.
Your Safety Net
Incapacity Planning is a safety net in case you have a sudden illness or become incapacitated. Incapacity Planning helps your loved ones help you when you are not able to take care of things yourself. It provides your consent for a trusted person to manage your daily finances and it provides consent and instructions to manage your health. These powers can take effect immediately or after you are incapacitated (it is your choice).
The financial powers of attorney are in a document separate from the health care directives. You may appoint the same person to manage both areas or you can designate different people for each. Your planning helps your family avoid having to guess what you would want to be done.
This planning is extremely important if you want someone who isn't legally part of your family to be the designated person(s) in charge (such as an unmarried partner). This planning greatly assists your loved ones when you cannot take care of your daily tasks or speak for yourself.
Advanced Health Care Directives
Advanced Health Care Directives authorize someone that you trust to make medical decisions for you when you cannot, such as in an emergency or sudden illness, and based upon your own values and wishes. It lets you express your wishes regarding organ donation, life-sustaining treatment, and designate your personal physicians, among many other issues regarding your health care.
The Advance Health Care Directive can be revised and/or revoked as frequently as necessary, so long as you are not incapacitated. There are several names that these instructions go by, such as a “Living Will,” “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care” or “Medical Durable Power of Attorney,” but they all serve the same purpose.
HIPPA Release Forms provide your authorization for release of protected health information to persons you have designated. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA, is a law that requires medical providers to safeguard your health care records. Your protected health care information cannot be shared without your consent.
The HIPPA Release Form provides your doctors with the necessary permission to disclose your health care information to the person that you have appointed. Emergencies, sudden illness, and incapacity are serious topics that we do not like to talk about but, in consideration to those who would be taking care of you, your prior planning will be greatly appreciated and help relieve some of their stress and heartache.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney are documents that authorize your appointed agent to manage your financial affairs if you become unable to manage them yourself. Your Power of Attorney can also be revoked and/or changed at any time you and as frequently as you desire, as long as you are not incapacitated (safeguards in your documents prevent changes to be made when you have diminished mental capacity in order help prevent undue influence by others who might take advantage of your incapacity).
Without a comprehensive incapacity plan in place, your family will have to go to court to get a judge to appoint a conservator to take control of your assets and health care decisions. The conservator will make all personal and medical decisions on your behalf as part of a court-supervised conservatorship - until you regain capacity or pass away.
If you believe that your loved one is incapacitated and does not have a power of attorney for finances or a healthcare directive, let’s chat about conservatorship proceedings. I can represent the proposed conservator in getting appointed.