When you finish your estate plan, you met a life milestone, and your family will thank you after you pass. You are in the one-third of adults who have any form of an estate plan, according to a 2021 survey by Caring.com.
However, what happens if you do not pass quickly? What happens if you are just incapacitated? Does your estate plan include an incapacity plan?
What is an incapacity plan?
An incapacity plan refers to that part of your estate plan that outlines what happens if you are incapacitated. It is the plan that kicks in should you lose your ability to make your own decisions temporarily or permanently.
For example, if you are knocked out, in a coma, develop dementia, etc., your incapacity plan kicks in.
Do I really need one?
Yes. Think about everything you do for your family. You work, pay bills, take care of the house, etc. Would any of this happen if you were incapacitated?
If not, then, you need an incapacity plan. Plus, your incapacity plan will include your medical wishes.
Three main focuses
Your incapacity plan will have three main focuses: health decisions, personal decisions and financial decisions. And, the incapacity plan lays out your wishes and empowers someone to make those decisions for you.
Designating responsible parties
You can designate one person to make those decisions on your behalf. Or, you can designate multiple people to carry out your wishes.
In either case, though, be sure to designate back-ups to ensure someone can carry out your wishes.
The plan itself
The incapacity plan is not a single document. It is a collection of documents, like a living will (communicates your medical wishes), Do Not Resuscitate Order (documents when you do not want resuscitative measures, like cardiopulmonary respiration or CPR), Health Care Power of Attorney (designates who can make medical decisions for you), HIPAA Release (allows doctors to speak with your designated representative, family, friends, etc.), Durable Power of Attorney (empowering someone to make health decisions, personal decisions and financial decisions for you) and other documents.