With Alzheimer’s and dementia becoming more and more prevalent these days, more and more clients are asking me how to plan for incapacity in case they develop one of these devastating diseases. In addition, you may have your documents in place to plan for an incapacity, but your parents or other loved ones may need to get them done, especially if there are early signs that one of these diseases is setting in. This blog discusses some planning tips for preparing for incapacity, and it really should be part of every estate plan even if you or a loved one has none of these signs, because none of us knows whether this disease will affect us later in life.
There is good news! In addition to planning for death, well-drafted estate planning documents also plan for incapacity and help you and your family avoid the need for a guardian (i.e., a person appointed by the court to take care of your housing, health care, and personal care needs) or a conservator (i.e., a person appointed by the court to manage your finances for you), and the attorney’s fees and court costs associated with doing so. Moreover, if you or a loved one are starting to slip, it is important to get the documents signed while you still have capacity to sign them.
In order to protect you and your family from having to go through a court process to establish a guardian or a conservator, I recommend having four documents in place:
These four documents will govern if you ever become incapacitated. With them, your wishes are clearly spelled out and your family members can act on your wishes and protect you. Without them, a guardian and/or conservator will most likely be required (which effectively means that your family will have to go to court about these issues) if you ever become incapacitated.
With all that said, there are a couple of other things to keep in mind:
Our firm has helped hundreds of families just like yours handle a wide variety of estate planning, business planning, probate, trust, and elder law issues. When families or business owners are not getting along, we can also handle any disputes and litigation related to their businesses, wills, trusts, guardianships, or conservatorships. Please give me a call, so that I can help you work through these difficult issues with confidence.