In our third blog post on basic questions in estate planning we are going to focus on incapacity planning, an important element of every estate plan. When a person becomes incapacitated, that person also leaves behind an estate that must be managed. Like other pieces of estate planning, having a good incapacity plan in place is something that every capable adult in the state of Florida needs to do as soon as possible. Here are three basic questions about incapacity planning that can help you understand why this is true.
Basic Question 7. What is incapacity?
Most people go through their daily lives without giving much thought to the idea of mental capacity. We tend to take it for granted that we can make choices.
From a legal perspective, this is because each adult is presumed to have the legal authority to make decisions on his or her own behalf. You don’t, for example, need to ask a court’s permission if you want to move, decide what you want to eat for lunch, or do anything else that you do on a routine basis.
But legal capacity is something that each of us can lose. Should we lose our ability to make choices, the law considers us incapacitated. Incapacitated people still face many of the same issues capable people face, but need others to make decisions on their behalf.
Basic Question 8. What is an incapacity plan?
When will you become incapacitated? What will cause your incapacitation? Will you be involved in an accident that leaves you hospitalized, or will you suffer from a debilitating illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease?
These types of questions are almost impossible to answer. No one knows what the future holds, and there is no way for you to know what might happen to you tomorrow. An incapacity plan, therefore, is a safety net. It is a collection of tools that you can create now, while you are able to make choices, that will apply should the unthinkable happen to you. If and when you become incapacitated, your incapacity plan will spring into action. Until that happens, and as long as you remain mentally capable, you can change or update your plan whenever you like.
Basic Question 9. What kind of tools will my plan include?
That depends on your individual circumstances, but almost all incapacity plans give you the ability to name representatives who make decisions on your behalf, as well as the ability to make specific choices that will apply if you should become incapacitated. Your attorney will explain more about the kinds of choices you will have to make, as well as guide you through the process of making them in the appropriate manner.