Although many people think of estate planning as deciding to whom their assets will go after they are deceased, a big part of estate planning also involves making decisions about how financial and medical affairs should be handled in the event of incapacity. Somebody who has not made these types of plans could be left with no say over their financial or medical decisions in the event of a serious accident or illness. A revocable living trust is often at the center of planning for capacity issues, as it not only provides instruction as to where trust property should go upon the trustor’s death, but also provides a means by which the trustor can be looked after in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated. Granted, nobody envisions a future of being incapacitated, but preparing for the unexpected is one of the wisest things people can do.
Planning for capacity issues involves not only establishing a revocable living trust, but also creating a coordinated plan to ensure that the incapacitated person is fully cared for. A financial power of attorney should be established to ensure that the individual’s finances are managed appropriately. A health care and mental health care power of attorney should also be established so that the person can receive suitable medical attention. Additionally, a living will should be established to control the type of healthcare a person would receive in the event he or she becomes unable to communicate his or her wishes. All of these documents can be set up so that they do not take effect unless the person for whom they are created becomes incapacitated. Planning for capacity issues with an estate planning attorney can give people peace of mind that their interests will be properly looked after regardless of the circumstances that befall them.