Planning For Illness or Incapacitation Should Be a Priority
Surprisingly, approximately 67 percent of Americans do not have a will or other estate planning documents in place. This means that 67 percent of Americans have no way to ensure that their final wishes are followed. They have given up the chance to direct how their worldly possessions are distributed to loved ones upon their death. Perhaps even more importantly, these individuals have given up the right to have a say in medical and financial decision-making if they become incapacitated.
Although it is sad to consider, heart attacks, car accidents, and unexpected illnesses happen every day. None of us know which day will be our last. This is why it is so important for every adult to have a comprehensive estate plan that covers end-of-life concerns and incapacitation planning.
What Happens If You Are Incapacitated by Illness or Injury?
If you fell into a coma tomorrow, who would pay your bills? Who would make medical decisions for you? These questions are uncomfortable to think about, but they are an essential part of estate planning. Incapacitation planning is the process of planning for temporary or permanent incapacitation.
Estate planning documents typically involved in incapacitation planning include:
- Power of attorney – A power of attorney for healthcare gives someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney for property or financial power of attorney gives someone the authority to handle your finances if you cannot do so yourself due to injury or illness.
- Living will – A living will is a document that describes the medical treatments you do and do not consent to. For example, do you want doctors to use CPR to resuscitate you if your heart stops? Do you want to be kept alive via mechanical ventilation or a feeding tube if you are near death?
- Will – A last will and testament goes into effect once you have passed away. However, if you are already in the process of incapacitation planning, it is a good idea to create a will and/or trust as well. Your will states how your assets should be distributed to heirs upon your death. A will may also be used to select a guardian for minor children if you pass away before the children are adults.
- Trust – A trust creates a legal entity that holds assets on behalf of the trust maker. There are many different types of trusts that can serve a variety of purposes. Trusts may reduce or eliminate the probate process, ensure heirs receive their inheritance, and reduce taxes.
You may hear us mention these essential points often. That is because, after more than 30 years in estate planning, we know how difficult things are when these plans are not in place. We want to make sure that everyone puts the proper legal documents in place to avoid putting themselves and loved ones through even more difficult times. However, if you decide to get these documents taken care of, regardless of how much you have or do not have, find the best way to move forward for you and your circumstances and your budget, and consider doing so sooner rather than later.
We Are Here To Help
If you are ready to get started on your estate plans, contact our Naperville estate planning attorneys for help. We can answer all of your questions and help you determine the best way to ensure your wishes are followed. Call us at 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation.
Please note: These blogs have been created over a period of time and laws and information can change. For the most current information on a topic you are interested in please seek proper legal counsel.