Having an estate plan is important for you and your family because it gives you the chance to decide now how you want your property distributed after your death. It also allows you to engage in incapacity planning, when your family will need the power to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so. Dallas estate planning can involve several different tools depending on your goals. But remember, incapacity planning is important to include, as well.
Incapacity Planning should not be overlooked
While you may not think it could ever happen to you, incapacity can be an unexpected consequence of an illness or accident. Incapacity can be physical, mental or both. It can be permanent or only temporary. Regardless of the nature of the incapacity, if you have an incapacity plan in place, it will be a lot less stressful on your family. In the legal sense, the term “incapacity” means the ability to understand the nature and consequences of legal proceedings. When it comes to estate planning, it usually refers to the inability to make your own decisions or manager your own affairs. Without a plan, you will likely be appointed a conservator or guardian.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is used specifically for the purpose of appointing an agent to have the authority to consent to medical treatment on your behalf or to withhold certain medical treatment, if that is your choice. This incapacity planning tool allows you to discuss your expectations regarding your future medical treatment with your agent now, while you are still able to do so.
Advance Medical Directives and incapacity planning
Advance Medical Directives provide a way for you to convey to someone else the authority to make decisions related your health care, whenever you become incapable of making or communicating those decisions for yourself. An Advance Medical Directive can be executed so that it is triggered upon your incapacity, whether temporary or permanent. The language of the directive will also provide your instructions regarding your treatment. Your appointed agent will be required to follow your instructions and make decisions on your behalf that are in line with your wishes.
Financial Power of Attorney and incapacity planning
Decisions regarding medical treatment are not the only types of issues that you may need assistance with, in the face of incapacity. You may also need someone to handle your financial matters. In order to delegate this type of authority, you should create a Financial Power of Attorney. Similar to an Advance Medical Directive, a Financial Power of Attorney appoints an agent who will have the authority to handle your finances.
The basic elements of a proper estate plan
Estate planning is basically the process of creating precise instructions for handling your estate after death. A comprehensive estate plan should include many of the following, depending on your specific situation:
- instructions for your care if you become disabled or incapacitated before your death,
- nomination of a guardian and manager for the inheritance of minor children,
- provisions for loved ones with special needs while preserving eligibility for government benefits
- provisions for loved ones who may need assistance managing money or who may need protection from creditors
- life insurance policies for your surviving family, disability income insurance if you become unable to work, and long-term care insurance to assist in financing your medical care in case of an extended illness or injury.
Start incapacity planning as soon as you can
A common misconception amongst clients is that they are too young, too healthy, or too poor to need an estate plan. The reality is, no one can predict whether they will become incapacitated in the future, or when their last day on earth will be. An unexpected illness or accident could easily result in incapacity or death. Therefore, estate planning needs to be a priority for everyone. Once the expected becomes a reality, it will be too late. If that happens, your family will be left behind with no idea what to do.
Estate planning is very customizable
If the idea of creating an estate plan seems overwhelming, it shouldn’t be. You can start with a basic initial plan and supplement it whenever necessary. This is a very good idea for single individuals and young families. As your needs and the needs of your family dynamic change, you can always modify your plan.
If you have questions regarding incapacity planning, please contact The Vermillion Law Firm, LLC for a consultation either online or by calling us toll free at (888) 567-5745.