When you first created your estate plan, you were likely focused on what should happen to your assets when you die. But now, you may find yourself growing increasingly concerned about what will happen if you are still alive but incapacitated. Simple updates to your existing estate plan can help you make plans now that will be useful in the future if you lack capacity.
3 Estate Planning Tools to Help Prepare for Incapacity
What are some of the tools that can be used to plan for incapacity? The following are three examples:
- Power of Attorney. A power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. This is very important when you become incapacitated, as it allows someone to immediately step in and take care of your financial affairs. If you do not have a power of attorney as part of your estate plan, it is important to add one. If you do have one, you should review its terms to determine whether you want to make changes.
- Advance Health Care Directive. The advance health care directive lets you nominate an agent to make medical decisions for you. It is similar to a power of attorney except that it applies to health care decisions and is only effective when you are incapacitated. Since it is too late for you to voice your wishes for end-of-life care once you are incapacitated, it is important to create this document now. If you already have one, it should be reviewed to ensure that your wishes still reflect those contained in the document.
- A conservatorship. In some cases, your incapacity could trigger a need for a conservatorship. A conservatorship is a legal determination by a court that a person should not make medical or financial decisions or is unable to resist fraud or undue influence. When this determination is made, the court appoints someone to act as a conservator to make decisions on a person’s behalf. To prepare for this type of situation, your estate plan can be updated, so you can choose and nominate the person that you want to be appointed your conservator while you still have sufficient capacity to make that decision.
If you need assistance choosing the right person to serve as your personal representative, we are here to help. We can be reached at (714) 459-5481.