Aug 2014

The Importance of Planning for Incapacity

Don’t Overlook This Aspect of Estate Planning

One commonly overlooked area of estate planning is planning for incapacity. Although no one likes to contemplate the idea of being too sick or too mentally unstable to look after their own affairs, incapacity planning is a crucial part of any comprehensive estate plan. In Missouri, there are several documents that make up a thorough plan to ensure you are protected in the event you become incapacitated.

Advanced Health Care Directive

An Advanced Health Care Directive applies only to end-of-life health care decisions and allows you to designate an agent to make important health care decisions on your behalf as well as specify whether you want health care professionals to administer certain types of interventions designed to prolong your life. It is referred to as a “living will” in some states.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Although similar to an Advanced Health Care Directive, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a much more comprehensive estate planning document that permits you to address a wide range of health care concerns, including what types of treatment you want administered and withheld. As with an Advanced Health Care Directive, you appoint a responsible, trusted agent to make decisions on your behalf. Whereas an Advanced Health Care Directive applies only in situations of terminal illness or imminent death, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care becomes effective immediately upon your incapacity, which can include events such as a coma, stroke, or other temporary serious illness.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

As its name indicates, a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances allows you to designate an agent to oversee your finances in the event you become too incapacitated to manage them. Empowered by the estate planning document, your agent can pay your bills, take care of your tax obligations, handle your banking, pay your property taxes, and oversee numerous other financial matters. Because it is important to thoroughly understand the authority you are granting your agent before signing a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, it is critical to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to draft this document.

Springfield, Missouri Estate Planning Attorneys

Contact the estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of Randy L. Smith, LLC today at (417) 841-2775 to schedule an estate planning consultation.

This website has been prepared by The Law Office of Randy L. Smith, LLC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.