Even the most responsible, careful, and forward thinking adult can be lax when it comes to estate planning. But not having a good estate plan in place in an emergency can be devastating to you and your family.
In some situations, such as when a person is diagnosed with a terminal medical condition and needs to create an estate plan quickly, your options will be severely limited if you haven’t already acted. In other situations your family may have to scramble to try to determine what they can and cannot do if you have been injured or rendered incapacitated. Here are some commonly asked questions people have about estate planning in an emergency.
Question 1. I just found out I have a terminal medical condition. What kind of estate planning can I do?
You must talk to an estate planning attorney right away. Your ability to create an estate plan depends on making choices while you still can. Every tool you create has specific legal requirements associated with it that you must meet. While your limited time gives you fewer options, acting immediately to preserve your choices is essential. The longer you wait to create an estate plan, the fewer options you will have, and the more potential harm you could do to your interests.
Question 2. I’m worried about losing my ability to communicate. What can I do about it?
Every estate plan will include one or more advance directives that address your medical choices. If you have learned you have a serious medical condition, you’ll want to create plans that specifically address the types of issues you will most likely face. Because of this, it’s important not only to speak your lawyer, but also get information from your physician about your condition. You also want to talk to your doctor about the kinds of complications that could arise. Once you are informed about what may happen, you can then craft an advance directive that will address all your concerns.
Question 3. If I do lose my abilities, can I choose someone who will take over my affairs in an emergency?
Absolutely. There are several estate planning tools that gives you the ability to appoint various representatives. For example, you can create a durable financial power of attorney that will give you the ability to name an agent who will manage your property and financial affairs if you lose your ability to do so. You can also appoint someone who will be able to make medical decisions for you, and even appoint someone who will be able to care for your children while you are incapacitated, as well as after you die.