Your estate plan should do more than simply decide what will happen to your estate assets when you die. Although the additional components of your plan may differ from those of someone else, one popular addition to a comprehensive estate plan is an incapacity plan.
Most people immediately think of old age related condition such as Alzheimer’s when they hear the term “incapacity planning.” While it certainly can protect you in the event of old age related incapacity, the reality is that incapacity can strike at any age and for a wide variety of reasons. A work related accident, a catastrophic car accident, or a terminal illness can all cause you to become incapacitated. Once you have decided to include incapacity planning in your estate plan you need to know what to include in your incapacity plan. Only your Texas estate planning attorney can help you decide what to include in your plan; however, the following are some commonly used incapacity planning tools and strategies:
- Revocable living trust – a revocable living trust works by allowing you to create a revocable trust that will hold all your major assets with you as the Trustee. You then appoint your spouse, parent, adult child, or someone else you trust as the successor Trustee. Should you become incapacitated, the successor Trustee will take over automatically without the need for court intervention. This way, you are able to decide now who will have control over your assets.
- Advanced directives – advanced directives allow you to accomplish two important things. First, you are able to appoint an Agent who will have the legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. Second, you can decide now what type of end of life medical treatment you want to accept or refuse, ensuring that your wishes will be honored when the time comes.
- Co-ownership – titling assets jointly can help a spouse or other loved one to gain access to the asset in the event of your temporary incapacity. Should you eventually die, the type of joint ownership will determine what happens to your share of asset after death.
- Power of attorney – a “durable” power of attorney will survive your incapacity while a “springing” POA only activates in the event of your incapacity. Either can be useful if you wish to give someone the legal authority to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
If you have additional questions or concerns about incapacity planning or about your Texas estate plan in general, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.