Many people don’t think about the daily life risk of losing their ability to function independently. However, all it takes is a nasty blow to the head to incapacitate you. In this situation, you would be unable to make health care and financial decisions for yourself. In this case, incapacity planning is necessary. You would assign someone you trust to manage these critical decisions for you.
A living will isn’t the same thing as your Last Will and Testament. You outline what health care decisions are important to you in a living will if you lose the ability to decide on your own. The last will covers what you want to do with your property after you die.
Do not resuscitate order
Estate planning law allows you to include a do not resuscitate order in your incapacity plan. You may not want doctors to attempt to bring you back if your heart stops or you stop breathing. Typically, it’s people who have a terminal illness that make a do not resuscitate order. Some people choose this because of their spiritual or religious beliefs.
Medical power of attorney
A medical power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy and a Designation of Patient Advocate (DPA), discusses your health issues with doctors when you aren’t able to. They will listen to the information the doctors share and then decide on your behalf. If you don’t choose a medical power of attorney before you lose mental capacity, the court has to appoint someone for you. In serious disputes over your health, the court may have to step in and make the decision.
Durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney is similar to a medical power of attorney but for your finances. They would use the funds from your bank account to pay your bills on your behalf.
An incapacity plan helps ensure that what you want to happen if you can’t decide for yourself will happen. It’s an uncomfortable thought to have no mental capacity longer, but everyone faces a risk.