People are asking how to protect their family during this Coronavirus situation. Of course, we all know the typical things to do, the washing of the hands and doing the social distancing and all of that stuff. What comes up legally is to talk about estate planning in general, which also includes incapacity planning. I think it’s appropriate to focus more on the incapacity planning of an estate plan right now because that’s come up as a potential issue lately. Whenever we do an estate plan, we include incapacity planning within. The most obvious documents that that entails are Powers of Attorney over Financial and Health Care.
What does that mean? A Power of Attorney over Financial is a document, it’s technically called a Springing Power of Attorney over Financial, and what that means is it “springs” into action if you’re incapacitated. If you can’t make your own decisions, then you are nominating someone to make your financial decisions. Why would you do this? Because maybe you’re incapacitated but you still have to pay your mortgage, you still need to pay your bills. So you’re nominating someone to be able to get into your bank account and pay those bills, essentially that’s what most people are using that document for. The other document that comes into play is something called a Power of Attorney over Health Care or otherwise known as a Do Not Resuscitate “DNR”. What this is is you’re nominating an agent, your power of attorney, to make your healthcare decisions in the event that you’re incapacitated.
What it does is you provide guidelines for this individual in order to help them make any decisions they need to make in the event of your incapacity. We’re not talking about when you pass away, we’re just talking about in the event you’re in a coma or you’re otherwise incapacitated. And those are the two main documents that pull up. Now, I do want to mention also as part of any estate plan and when we’re talking about incapacity planning, that also brings up the topic of guardianship, not just for children but for adults. If I’m just talking to an adult, we’re still talking about putting a guardianship provision in any will that you have or a trust. Depending on what you have going on, you’re going to have a guardianship provision in there which you’re simply going to appoint someone to be your guardian in the event that you are incapacitated and can no longer make your own decisions.
There are three major components to an estate plan that are important if you are incapacitated but still alive, the Power of Attorney Over Health Care, Power of Attorney Over Financial and the guardianship provisions within your will or trust. If you have any additional questions or you want to dig deeper into this, as always, I’m available. You can schedule a complimentary phone consultation either by going to our website or calling our office. Stay healthy.
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