When it comes to estate planning, most people focus on their final estate distribution and settlement. Many overlook the importance of planning for potential incapacity. Incapacity planning is more important than you might think, especially if you experience an illness or injury that leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself.
There are several key considerations for addressing potential incapacity in your estate plan.
Recognize the risks
According to AARP, nearly a third of all seniors over age 65 experience cognitive impairment. That impairment increases the risk of incapacity. Consider your family’s medical history and your personal factors that could contribute to any cognitive decline and potential incapacity.
Express your wishes
When you understand your risk of incapacity, take steps to detail your wishes in the event that you cannot communicate them directly. Address your healthcare preferences, financial decisions and any particular instructions for your well-being.
Establish power of attorney
Select a trusted loved one to act as your power of attorney during periods of incapacity. This person can make financial and legal decisions for you when you become unable to do so. Choose someone reliable who understands your values and your wishes.
Complete an advance directive
Advance directives provide detailed information about your wishes related to medical treatments, end-of-life care and extraordinary measures. Provide clear guidance to eliminate confusion for your healthcare proxy and your care team.
Create a revocable living trust
When planning for potential incapacity, consider any possible safeguards for your assets. A revocable living trust provides that safety net to protect your assets in the event of any incapacity.
Incapacity planning is a proactive approach to safeguarding your well-being and having your wishes honored. These tips will help you get started on your incapacity planning.