When you are actively engaged in living your life, stopping to consider future incapacity scenarios may seem inappropriate, out of context, even a waste of time. This is clearly true when you are young and bursting with robust good health. It can also be true later in life when you are enjoying an active lifestyle free of any significant health-related impediments.
The fact is that this is as it should be. Estate planning is not about morbidly obsessing about the inevitability of death and the possibility of future physical challenges. It is the process of taking a relatively small amount of time to address some of the realities of aging “just in case.” Planning your estate is a parenthetical exercise that interrupts your life about as significantly as any other meeting or appointment.
Taking the wise approach and putting plans in place to address possibilities that may never become reality is just good common sense, and this type of preparation actually provides a huge positive that is life affirming: peace of mind. If you were to become physically or mentally incapacitated, and this could apply to a temporary condition, who would make decisions on your behalf? Wouldn’t you want to be the person who made that choice? This is what incapacity planning ensures, nothing more or less than that.
The way that estate planning lawyers make sure that the medical wishes of their clients are honored involves the use of advance health care directives like health care proxies and living wills. Selecting someone to make financial decisions and take appropriate actions on behalf of the granter is achieved through the execution of a financial durable power of attorney. Sometimes clients prefer to use a springing power of attorney that takes effect, or “springs” into action only upon the incapacity of the principal. Living trusts can also be an important component of incapacity planning as they typically own most of your assets.
The point of emphasis here is that intelligent contingency planning is not a statement of expectation. It is an action that addresses those contingencies in a realistic manner with the interests of your family at heart. This is a course of action that is clearly in the best interests of all concerned, especially you.
Attorney at Law
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