A lot of people think about estate planning as something that is purely financial. While this is certainly part of the matter, it is also important to consider the period of time that will precede your passing.
An incapacity plan should definitely be embedded within a broader estate plan. When it comes to senior citizens, dementia looms large. About one third of people that are 85 years of age and older have Alzheimer’s, and this is not the only cause of cognitive impairment.
This being stated, incapacity planning is actually important for adults of all ages. People get seriously injured in accidents every day, and catastrophic illnesses can strike suddenly. In light of the pandemic that we are living through, you can easily see how everything could change in the blink of an eye.
Advance Directives for Health Care
An incapacity plan should include documents called advance directives for health care. One of these directives is a living will. With this type of will, you state your preferences with regard to the use of feeding tubes, artificial hydration, resuscitation, and mechanical respiration.
You can go through each one of these different forms of life support one by one if you choose to do so. Another matter that can be addressed in the living will is the question of organ and tissue donations. The document can also include comfort care medication choices.
The other advance directive that should be part of the incapacity plan is a durable power of attorney for health care or health care proxy. This device is used to empower a representative to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them yourself.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
One of the provisions contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) makes it illegal for doctors to release medical information to anyone other than the patient. To account for this, you should include a HIPAA release form to give your health care agent (and anyone else you choose to add) the ability to speak freely with your doctors.
When you have a child that has turned into a young adult, you may never think about the fact that HIPAA applies to every legal adult, even someone that is 18 years of age.
To provide an example of the possible consequences, let’s say that you have a young daughter that is going to college out of state. You never thought about the need for incapacity planning since you have always had decision-making authority over all matters that involve your daughter.
Her roommate calls you in the middle of the night to tell you that she is in the hospital after being injured in a serious automobile accident. If you call the hospital, the doctors would not be allowed to give you any information about your daughter’s condition.
This is why all adult members of your family should have the appropriate incapacity planning documents in place.
Access Our Free Worksheet
In addition to this blog, we have many other written resources on this website that you can tap into free of charge. One of them is our carefully prepared estate planning worksheet. If you take the time to go through it, you will come away with a more complete understanding of the process.
To gain access your copy, visit our worksheet page and follow the simple instructions.
Attend an Upcoming Webinar
We are offering a number of webinars over the coming weeks, and the sessions are extremely informative. There is no charge, and nothing can be more convenient than a live presentation that you can enjoy in your own home. To see the dates and obtain registration information, visit our webinar page.
We Are Here to Help!
If you already know enough to recognize the fact that it is time for you to put an estate plan in place, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance. You can send us a message through our contact page to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at (585) 546-1734.