Many people know the importance of estate planning, but incapacitation planning doesn’t get the same attention. It’s just as important as estate planning because if you become unable to communicate or manage your assets, your dependents may not have full access to money they need to cover their expenses.
1. Appoint a durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney can make financial decisions for you. In your estate plan, you can clearly outline what specific decisions they’re allowed to make and any limitations on those actions. An estate planning lawyer may help you draft your power of attorney and other incapacitation guidelines in a way that works for you. A legal professional may bring to your attention details that might not have crossed your mind.
2. Designate a durable power of attorney for health care
You will need someone you trust to make health decisions for you if you are ever put into a situation where you can’t communicate your preferences. For example, think about whether or not you would want to live on life support. Perhaps, you have a time limit on how long you would want life support. Clearly define these guidelines in your incapacitation plan. If you don’t put it in writing, your family could argue over what to do and what you would want.
3. Include a HIPAA release
HIPAA regulations limit how much of your medical information your family can access. This can prevent your family from knowing important information about your medical condition, treatment and prognosis. Some people have even had trouble figuring out which hospital their loved one was at because of HIPAA laws. In your incapacitation plan, you can include a HIPAA release for your family so that they can access your full medical information under this type of circumstance.
In order to have a complete estate plan, you need to consider what you want to happen if you become incapacitated. Make sure that you touch on all the critical components of incapacitation planning to prevent arguments among your loved ones and to avoid living for years in a vegetative state if that’s something you don’t want.