While his life’s work was all about making people laugh, the last years of legendary actor and comedian Groucho Marx were anything but pleasant. While he had a will, Marx did not plan for incapacity. As a result, his partner and children fought for years over the right to make decisions regarding his finances and medical care when he was no longer able to do so.
The Legal Information Institute defines incapacity as “a lack of physical or mental abilities that results in a person’s inability to manage his or her own personal care, property, or finances.” In Marx’s case, including incapacity planning in his estate plan would have ensured his wishes were met and saved his loved ones from emotional distress.
Read on to learn more about incapacity planning and why you should make it a part of your estate plan.
What is incapacity planning?
Incapacity planning involves preparing certain legal documents to ensure you have a plan of action if you ever become mentally or physically incapacitated due to injury or illness.
An incapacity plan allows you to make decisions that are aligned with your principles and beliefs, while you are still of sound mind. It helps ensure your next of kin or family members are aware of and will respect your wishes. With a capacity plan, you can name a person of your choosing to be responsible for your health care and financial choices on your behalf.
It also helps your family have save time and resources during an emotionally difficult time. your wishes.
What to include in an incapacity plan
An incapacity plan is not just one document: it’s composed of several advance directives. The following are some examples of legal documents that are typically included in an incapacity plan:
- Living Will – It is a legal document that details your preferences with respect to the kind of care you will receive should you lose consciousness or capacity. It will only apply when you are alive but unable to make or communicate decisions.
- Health Care Power of Attorney – This document designates a person to be your agent, the person who has the legal right to make health-related decisions on your behalf. For instance, you can authorize your agent to choose a long-term care facility for you or decide on a type of treatment to be given to you.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances – This document allows you to assign someone to have the legal authority to handle your financial affairs. For example, you can have your chosen representative use your savings to pay your bills during your hospitalization.
Why is incapacity planning critical?
Without an incapacity plan in place, the court may assign someone to manage your assets and make healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated. This person may not know your preferences when it comes to your finances and medical treatments.
Additionally, estate planning without making provisions for incapacity can cause stress to your loved ones. On the other hand, having an incapacity plan removes any uncertainties on how you wish to be cared for and how you want your finances managed.
Prepare for the Future With Help From TCMSC Law
Taylor Chadd Minnette Schneider & Clutter P.C. is a general practice firm serving clients in Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Our estate planning attorneys will provide you with compassionate and competent services that protect your best interests and give you peace of mind.
To learn more about incapacity planning or to book a consultation, get in touch with us today.