With age comes wisdom–and increased risk for health issues. What happens if you become incapacitated from such issues? That depends on whether you have a healthcare directive and power of attorney in place. Many people think of this kind of estate planning as a “living will” but true living wills don’t exist in Washington State. As stated before, a more accurate term would be a healthcare directive and power of attorney.
While it is not something we like to think about, planning for incapacity is a crucial consideration for your future. If you suspect you are not in the right mindset to make decisions, or you expect this to happen in the future to someone you know, fear not.
There is a way to ensure that your wishes are respected if you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Below, our estate planning lawyers will provide a general breakdown of why a healthcare directive and power of attorney are essential during this period of your life and the steps you need to know about in planning for incapacity.
From an Estate Planning Lawyer: How to Plan for Incapacity
More than anything, these advanced directives are preventative. They ensure that many of the important decisions in your life will not be left in limbo or up to the court or family members to try to figure out. Illness can emerge at any time, and as we grow older, we may face medical issues or changes in our mental capacity that prevent us from following through with our own wishes or being able to speak on our own behalf.
At Clearwater Law Group, our estate planning lawyers ensure that your wishes are respected in the event of incapacity to give you peace of mind and take the burden off of any family members who may be left wondering what you want to do.
The Most Important Decisions
If you want to plan for incapacity, there are several decisions to make. The most vital decisions are those relating to your finances and healthcare. Here is a quick look at some considerations for both, which you can outline in your power of attorney and healthcare directives respectively:
Paying bills for incapacitated people can be challenging if there is no legal document in place that provides control over your assets. We call this a power of attorney. With a power of attorney, you can select this person so that you know that your expenses will be managed in the event of your incapacity.
If any governmental agencies, such as the IRS, need to contact you, your power of attorney can communicate with them on your behalf. That ensures that they can make financial decisions that support your wishes, keeping you in good financial standing.
Age, chronic illness, and accidents can all put you at risk for incapacity. To prevent important healthcare decisions from being left up to discussion, a healthcare power of attorney designates a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. This person should be capable of following your wishes, especially your end-of-life wishes. These decisions can prove extremely painful for your spouse or adult children, so designating one of them as your healthcare power of attorney may not always be in your best interest.
Advance directives outline how you would like to be cared for medically if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Advance directives should include whether you would want to go on a ventilator or life support, be subject to autopsies, or donate your organs in the event of your untimely passing. It should also cover whether you would like to be cremated or buried, and it may include names of anyone who should never be in charge of your healthcare.
This document should also outline whether you would like to take advantage of any extreme life-saving measures if needed. Further, if you are looking for emotional support or symptom relief from a chronic illness, palliative care may be available. You would have the chance to approve or deny this in your advance directive.
There are many reasons to consider planning for incapacity. You might be older or chronically ill, and you would like to create a responsible plan for the event of incapacity. You may also be a person who manages money for another incapacitated person, and you might be wondering what all you need to know.
Regardless, communicating with an estate planning lawyer is necessary. Any of our attorneys can help you create a living will, which can assure you that if anything happens to you, you will be taken care of the way you desire.
Unsure where to begin with all the advanced directive and power of attorney forms? Clearwater Law Group is available to assist with all your legal needs. Contact your local law office today to schedule a consultation.