Three Important Incapacity Planning Tools

The goal of incapacity planning is to protect yourself and your spouse during your retirement. Should you become incapacitated, it is important that you have the proper legal tools in place to protect yourself. None of us like to consider the possibility of becoming incapacitated. However, taking the time to plan for incapacity now can help you significantly in the future. Proper planning can allow you to appoint people you trust to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to speak or think for yourself. The best way to engage in incapacity planning is to speak to a Charlotte estate planning lawyer. Your lawyer will discuss the tools available to you to protect your assets and make sure your directives are followed.

Creating a Revocable Living Trust

More people than ever have turned to living trusts to protect their assets. A revocable living trust allows people to maintain control over their assets after transferring them into the trust. If you create a revocable living trust, you can still modify your trust if you see fit, should your circumstances change. Many benefits come with transferring your assets into a living trust. First, those who will inherit your assets can avoid going through the probate process. You can create your trust in a way that allows your loved one’s immediate access to your assets after you pass away or become incapacitated.

Creating a living trust will also help protect your assets from creditors and reduce the amount of estate taxes your beneficiaries will need to pay. If you become incapacitated, your loved ones will not need to petition the court to appoint a conservator to manage your assets. Instead, if your assets have been transferred into the trust, the trustees will manage the trust according to the trust agreement. In a medical emergency, you do not want your loved ones to have to spend time and money petitioning the court to appoint a conservator. By creating a trust, you can ensure that your property will be in good hands while incapacitated.

Creating a Durable Power of Attorney

Creating a general power of attorney can help you and your family members tremendously should you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives an agent you appoint the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. Without a power of attorney in place, your loved ones would need to petition the court to appoint a conservator to make financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated. This can be a long and expensive process.

When you appoint a power of attorney, he or she will be able to pay your bills, buy and sell real estate, open financial accounts on your behalf, settle lawsuits, and invest your income. There are several different types of power of attorney documents. A durable power of attorney allows your agent to continue to act on your behalf regarding financial matters when you are incapacitated. Your estate planning lawyer will be able to discuss the different types of power of attorney and which one will benefit you the most.

Advance Directives

If you become incapacitated, your doctors will not be able to ask you questions about which treatment options you would prefer. It is important to sign an advanced health care directive or a durable healthcare power of attorney. These legal documents allow you to appoint an agent who will make decisions for you about your medical treatment should you become incapacitated. You can also make sure your loved ones understand your preference is related to life-prolonging and life-sustaining treatments.

It is also important to give your trusted family members or friends access to your medical records and ensure they can discuss your health with your physicians. We have seen cases in which family members cannot access any information about their loved ones’ conditions from their doctors because they do not have the legal authority to do so. When your family is facing a medical crisis, appointing a health care agent to make decisions for you and ensuring they know your preferences can help ease the burden on your family members.

Contact a Charlotte Incapacity Planning Lawyer

Incapacity planning can be challenging, but it is an important topic. The estate planning lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can successfully help you with your estate planning and incapacity planning needs. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation at our Charlotte, Mooresville, or Monroe office.