It is said that nothing in life is guaranteed except death and taxes, and an estate plan is a plan for these eventualities. However, part of every estate plan should be a plan for the possibility of incapacity.
What does incapacity mean?
Incapacity refers to any time you cannot make your own decisions, either temporarily or permanently. For example, if you are in a car accident, which causes you to become unconscious, you cannot make your own decisions.
As you age, dementia and other memory and mental faculty issues arise, which is another scenario where an incapacity plan would be needed. In other words, any time you cannot make decisions or your decisions cannot be made reasonably, your incapacity plan will kick in.
What should the plan address?
Your incapacity plan should address decisions that affect your health, financial well-being and personal decisions. For example, how should your bills be paid when you are incapacitated? How long do you want to be on life support? Should your Facebook page be shut down, or an alert be sent out? These are all examples of what should be included in your incapacity plan.
Wishes and people
Your Richmond, Virginia, incapacity plan should include two things. First, it should include your wishes as they relate to your health, financial well-being and personal decisions. It should also include whomever you want to empower to carry out those wishes.
How are they empowered?
Through a power of attorney, your designees can honor your wishes. This legal document gives them the legal authority to step into your shoes to make medical, financial and personal decisions on your behalf.
POAs should not be a secret
Your designees should know that they are your designees well before you are incapacitated. It should not be a surprise. In addition, you should have backups, just in case. Your designee may sound reasonable when you speak with them, but they could change their mind when the time comes. Or, something else could happen. The key is to prepare now.