It can be unpleasant to think about becoming incapacitated, but planning ahead means not living with regrets, and that’s an important aspect of an estate plan. Incapacity planning is essential in that it can help to protect your interests in the event that you suffer a medical emergency.
In the event that you’re ever unable to make decisions for yourself, having a comprehensive incapacity plan can prove extremely important. By the time you realize you need one, it could be too late. Contact ourWoburn estate planning attorney at The Heritage Law Center to get started today. Our qualified lawyer is here to help provide you with the right information through compassionate and personalized service. By understanding your individual concerns, we can help you to establish some essential incapacity planning documents, such as a durable power of attorney, durable power of attorney for health care, and a living will.
A Durable Power of Attorney
One type of incapacity planning document is a durable power of attorney. This is a legal document that allows you to choose someone to act in your place when it comes to your private affairs, business, or legal matters should you become incapacitated. This individual is commonly referred to as an “attorney-in-fact,” and should be someone whom you trust as they will have the legal right to handle your investments, pay your bills, and manage your property.
There are two types of durable powers of attorney: present and springing. Present durable powers of attorney immediately transfer power to your attorney-in-fact (even if they won’t be used until needed), while springing powers of attorney only transfer power once you become disabled. Your physician must confirm you’re incapacitated for a springing power of attorney, which could take some time.
If you don’t create a durable power of attorney it can take time and money for your loved ones to obtain the legal authority from the court to handle your financial matters. By creating a durable power of attorney, you eliminate the need for court and attorney fees, thereby avoiding much aggravation for your loved ones.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Another incapacity planning document is a durable power of attorney for health care, commonly referred to as a health care proxy. A health care proxy is an advance medical directive that, similar to a durable power of attorney for your finances, allows a trusted loved one to make decisions regarding your medical care in the event that you’re incapacitated. This individual would work with your physician to carry out your wishes regarding medical treatment. However, you can choose whether or not to limit this individual’s authority to decisions on certain treatments only and to follow your wishes, or to make all medical decisions.
A Living Will
Another type of incapacity planning document is a living will, which works in conjunction with a health care proxy. A living will helps explain how you wish to be treated in the event that you become terminally ill and unable to communicate your desires.
A common measure in a living will is whether you want to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form if you’re actively dying (near death). This informs medical personnel not to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in order to keep you alive. A living will can also help to determine if you should be put on a ventilator or a feeding tube, or if another life-sustaining measure should be taken.
Additional Health Care Directives for Incapacity Planning
It’s really important that you allow your family members / loved ones and your doctors and healthcare providers access to your medical history and records so that they can act per your wishes and in your best interest. In order to allow people access to your medical information, you must fill out and sign a The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) document.
What If You Don’t Have an Incapacity Plan?
If you don’t establish an incapacity plan, the state of Massachusetts will essentially do so for you. The court will appoint individuals to make all of the above financial, legal, and medical decisions for you, whether or not they’re aware of or agree with your wishes. By creating an incapacity plan you can help protect your loved ones from having to spend unnecessary time and money and can bring both them and yourself peace of mind in knowing that they are making the “right” decisions.