Using an estate plan to prepare for incapacity

Powers of attorney and health care directives provide Tennessee residents with a way to prepare for the possibility of incapacity and name trusted individuals to make important decisions on their behalf. A comprehensive incapacity plan should address personal, financial and health matters, and it should not shy away from difficult issues like end-of-life decisions.

Health care

An incapacity plan is made up of several documents. The first of these to be drafted is usually a living will. This document states what kind of medical treatment an individual wishes to receive should they become incapacitated as well as types of treatment they would prefer to avoid. Living wills are sometimes called health care directives. Other health care documents an incapacity plan could include are:

  • Do-not-resuscitate orders. The situations where efforts to preserve life should cease may be included in living wills, but it is a good idea to draft a separate document to deal with this important issue.
  • A health care power of attorney. This document designates a trusted person to make important health care decisions.
  • A HIPPA release. This document provides health care professionals with a list of people who may be given information that would normally be kept confidential.

Financial matters

A durable power of attorney for finances gives a trusted individual the authority to pay bills and make financial decisions. These estate planning documents can go into effect immediately or be triggered by an event like incapacity, and they should include all of the information that the designated individual will need to discharge their duties.

Revocable living trusts

An attorney with experience in this area might suggest using a revocable living trust to prepare for incapacity. This type of trust is commonly used to allow assets to be distributed to heirs without first going through the probate process, but appointing a successor trustee who would assume their duties if the grantor becomes incapacitated could ensure that assets continue to be managed properly.

Costner & Greene Attorneys at Law

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