Many people have the mistaken belief that when someone becomes incapacitated, their spouse or adult child will be able to take over their affairs. Legally, that is not the case. If you have not created an incapacity plan ahead of time, legal proceedings will be required in order to give someone the authority to handle your affairs. First, someone is required to petition the court to declare you legally incompetent and then to appoint a guardian. This type of legal process can be expensive and take a lot of time. Plus, a guardian is required to return to the court each year and report on how he or she is handling your finances. The guardian must also request permission from the court before taking certain actions.
If you want your family to be able to manage your affairs immediately, if you become incapacitated, the best solution is to have an estate planning attorney draft the appropriate legal documents to make that happen. You can designate someone you trust to act as your agent. That person will be given the power to handle your finances and make your health care decisions if that is what you choose. Contrary to what some people think, a simple will cannot provide the type of protection you need if you become incapacitated. Why? Because a will does not take effect until after you die.
What should be included in my Incapacity Plan?
Your family and life situation are different from the next person, so one size plan certainly does not fit all. Luckily, there are several incapacity planning tools that can be customized to fit anyone’s needs.There are many options other than guardianships, such as powers of attorney, living wills, trusts, and advanced medical directives. Discuss which instruments should be included in your specific plan with a Nevada estate planning attorney.
A Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a very useful incapacity planning tool that can be used to manage health care, finances, personal property and the individual himself. Drafting a durable power of attorney is not a complicated process and it is not as costly as guardianship proceedings. Another advantage of a durable power of attorney is the ability to choose the agent you want to handle your affairs, instead of the court making that decision for you.
Advanced Medical Directives
An advanced medical directive is essential a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will combined. This legal document is used to direct every aspect of your health care in the event you become incapacitated. The durable power of attorney will identify the individual you give the authority to make health care decisions for you. The living will portion allows you to choose the types of medical treatment you consent to, including end of life care. These comprehensive instructions will provide peace of mind for your family during what will certainly be a stressful time. The advantage of making these plans now, for you and your family, is untold.
If you have reached the point that you are considering your future care in the event you become incapacitated, contact a Reno estate planning attorney for advice regarding Reno Nevada Incapacity Planning.