In this second blog post in our ongoing series of essential estate planning ideas, we are going to take a look at another key piece of every estate plan. That piece is incapacity planning. An incapacity plan is something that everyone who creates an estate plan in the Colorado Springs or Centennial area will include as a part of their overall plan. To help give you a better idea of what incapacity planning is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at some essential concepts.
Essential Idea 1: Incapacitation
It’s common for people to go about their day-to-day lives making decisions without really thinking about the legal basis for them. You don’t, for example, typically worry about having the legal authority of deciding where you want to live or what you want to eat for lunch. We take it for granted that we can make these choices because the law presumes that we have the mental capacity required to make them.
Unfortunately, this decision-making capacity isn’t something that everyone has. It’s quite possible for persons to become incapacitated. Incapacitated people cannot make decisions, and need others to make them on their behalf.
Essential Idea 2: Incapacity Planning
The idea behind incapacity planning is quite simple. If it’s possible that you might one day lose your ability to make decisions, and you have the ability to make decisions now, creating tools that allow you to make choices about what you want to happen in the future is what incapacity planning is all about.
When you make a plan, you and your attorney sit down and discuss what might happen to you should you lose your capacity. What kinds of decisions will your family and loved ones be faced with if you lose your ability to communicate or make choices? Would they know what you want? Do you know what you want?
Incapacity plans allow you to answer each of these, and related, questions.
Essential Idea 3: Planning Tools
You cannot make an incapacity plan simply by stating your wishes, or by letting others know what you want. Even though the law allows capable adults to create plans that will take effect should they become incapacitated, you have to do so in specific ways. In short, you have to ensure that you make your incapacity planning choices in legally recognized forms.
Creating these forms, such as durable powers of attorney, advance medical directives, and other types of legal documents, is the only way to ensure that your incapacity planning choices will be respected should your plan ever be needed.
For more answers about incapacity, register for one of our estate planning workshops in July! One of our experienced attorneys will share a wealth of important information on the subject of wills, trusts, incapacity, asset protection, and much more.