Estate planning is the process of memorializing who you trust to manage your affairs during incapacity and death, and choosing how your assets will be distributed at your death. Most people associate estate planning with preparing for death and how assets will be distributed upon death. However, it is equally important to prepare yourself and your family in case you become incapacitated and can no longer look over your own affairs. Planning for incapacity usually deals with preparing an
Advance Health Care Directive and a
Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs.
Accidents and catastrophic events can happen at any time--you just never know. You need to be prepared for these tragic events by planning ahead. The best way to do this is through estate planning and making your wishes known ahead of time. This way, your family members and loved ones are not left in the dark. They will have specific instructions for taking care of you and your assets.
Incapacity documents are effective during your lifetime and end once you pass away, or regain incapacity and revoke the documents. The two main incapacity documents are the Advance Health Care Directive and the Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs. You are the principal, and in these documents, you designate an agent or agents, to act on your behalf once you become incapacitated. In the Advance Health Care Directive, you designate someone (along with back-ups) to make your health care and medical treatments decisions for you. You will also outline your health care wishes and how you want to be treated. This way, there is no second guessing and eliminates any potential family disputes over your health care. The Durable Power of Attorney is similar, but this agent will be in charge of all of your financial affairs. Your agent will be able to sign taxes on your behalf, pay your bills, access your bank accounts, and make investments for you, among other things.
The beauty of these documents is that they can be as general or specific as you want. You have full control over how you want to be treated and your affairs handled.
It is never too early to start planning for your future. Make sure you and your family are prepared in case you become incapacitated or pass away. Contact an
estate planning attorney at Atlantis Law to schedule a free consultation to discuss your estate planning needs.