Apr 2015

When Is a Person Legally Incapacitated?

Find an answer to this common estate planning question.

Most people don’t like to think about the possibility of becoming incapacitated. This is normal and understandable, but failing to have an incapacity plan in place with your estate planning could leave you and your loved ones at the mercy of the court.

Most people associate incapacity with advanced age. The truth is that incapacity can happen to anyone at any age. An unexpected illness or catastrophic accident could leave you unable to handle your own financial and health decisions.

But what exactly does it mean for a person to be “incapacitated?” What has to happen before the law considers an individual unable to look after his or her own health care and finances? How does this affect estate planning?

Incapacity under Missouri Law

Section 475.010(10) of the Missouri Revised Statutes defines an incapacitated person as:

“… one who is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions to such an extent that he or she lacks capacity to meet essential requirements for food, clothing, shelter, safety or other care such that serious physical injury, illness, or disease is likely to occur.”

The next step in determining incapacity is having a qualified person or entity declare that a person meets the legal definition of incapacity. In a health care setting, a doctor has the authority to determine if a person is incapacitated. In a guardianship proceeding, the court must declare the person incapacitated.

Springfield, Missouri Estate Planning Law Firm

At the Law Offices of Randy L. Smith, LLC, we help people create estate planning documents that provide peace of mind. Call today at (417) 841-2775 to speak to an experienced estate planning lawyer about your case.

This website has been prepared by The Law Offices 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.