Estate planning is something the many people put off. In fact, surveys show that less than half of all Americans have an estate plan in place. Even fewer have a comprehensive estate plan that includes an incapacity plan. People put off creating an estate plan for a variety of reasons. Many of those same reasons are given when asked why an individual does not have an incapacity plan in place. At the top of the list of explanations are “I don’t need one”, “I don’t want to dwell on my death/incapacity”, and “I can’t afford to create one”. If you have yet to create an incapacity plan, consider the following top five reasons why you need to do so now.
- 1. Incapacity can strike at any age. People often equate “incapacity” with old age related dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Incapacity, however, can strike at any time. If your explanation for why you don’t have a plan in place is that you don’t need one, think again. Your chance of becoming temporarily disabled before you reach retirement age is one in five. During your golden years the odds increase to as high as three in four if you live to be 80 years old.
- 2. You may have more to protect than you realize. You may not want to dwell on the possibility of your own incapacity or death, but either could happen. If you have minor children, you have more to protect than you may realize. Refusing to face the possibility of your own incapacity could leave your children unprotected and without sufficient assets to provide for them.
- 3. You don’t want a court making decisions for you do you? Would you let a judge decide today who will control your bank account? Would you let that judge decide who will choose your doctor? In the absence of an incapacity plan that is exactly what could happen if you become incapacitated – a judge will decide who will control your assets and who will make healthcare decisions for you.
- 4. You may have strongly held end of life beliefs. Some people are very adamant that they do not want life-sustaining or prolonging measures taken under certain circumstances. Unless you have put your wishes down in the form of an advance directive, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be honored.
- 5. It saves you and your loved ones money. People frequently fail to create an incapacity plan because they don’t have money to spend on the legal fees involved. What they fail to consider though is how much it will cost them, and their loved ones, if incapacity does strike without a plan in place. Imagine the legal fees your loved ones will incur if control over you and your assets ends up in court?
There will always be a reason to put off creating an incapacity plan if you are looking for one; however, now you have five very important reasons to stop procrastinating. Consult with your estate planning attorney today about getting your plan started.