The Mendel Law Firm
The Mendel Law Firm
People frequently make the mistake of assuming that incapacity planning is only important for the elderly when, in fact, incapacity planning should be part of every estate plan. Although your odds of becoming incapacitated as a result of Alzheimer’s or another age-related dementia condition will increase with age, you could suffer and incapacitating event at any age. Incapacity planning ensures that you decide who takes overcontrol of your assets and who makes medical decisions for you if incapacity does strike. The attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P are committed to helping you include Incapacity Planning into your estate plan.
Why Do You Need an Incapacity Plan?
To fully understand the importance of incapacity planning, you must first set aside the notion that only the elderly suffer from incapacity. To hammer that home, consider the fact that you stand a one in five chance of suffering a period of disability or incapacity that lasts five months or longer before you reach retirement age. Incapacity can be the result of a wide range of causes, including a catastrophic motor vehicle collision, a debilitating illness, or a tragic workplace accident.
Take a moment to imagine what would happen if you were suddenly incapacitated tomorrow. Who would take over control of your assets and pay your bills? Who would make potentially life-altering health care decisions for you? Who would make personal decisions for you, such as where you will live and who will care for you? Unless you have an incapacity plan that answers all of these questions ahead of time, the reality is that a judge may end up making them for you – and there is a good chance you won’t like the decisions the judge makes. Moreover, your loved ones could end up in a contentious, and costly, court battle over the right to be named as your Guardian during your period of incapacity.
What Is Incapacity Planning and How Can It Help?
An incapacity plan is a set of legal strategies and tools incorporated into your estate plan that collectively determine who will control your assets and make decisions for you in the event you are ever incapacitated. Like your overall estate plan, your incapacity plan will be tailored to your unique needs and circumstances; however, there are some commonly used incapacity planning tools and strategies. You might, for example, execute a durable power of attorney that grants an Agent of your choosing the authority to act on your behalf in legal matters. For the POA to survive your incapacity, however, it must be made durable. Another common tool is a revocable living trust that works by allowing you to appoint yourself as the Trustee and the person you designate to take control of your assets as the successor Trustee. As Trustee, you continue to control all assets transferred into the trust unless you become incapacitated at which time control seamlessly shifts to the successor Trustee. Finally, because even a general POA does not cover health care decisions, you may also wish to include a Texas Medical Power of Attorney that lets you appoint an Agent to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and/or a Texas Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates wherein you can actually make end of life medical treatment decisions for yourself now.
At the Mendel Law Firm, L.P. we are committed to helping you incorporate Incapacity Planning into your comprehensive estate plan to ensure that your wishes are honored if incapacity does ever strike. Contact the team today by calling 281-759-3213 or fill out our online contact form.