Incapacity planning is a crucial aspect of estate planning. Should you become incapacitated, being prepared is important. Without preparing for incapacity, your assets and financial future could be in jeopardy. Planning for long-term health care costs and incapacity can help you protect your assets for yourself and your loved ones. Every comprehensive estate plan should include a robust incapacity plan.
Consult With a Syracuse Incapacity Planning Lawyer
Nobody expects to become incapacitated, and it’s easy to put off incapacity planning with our busy lives. However, every year countless people become unable to manage their affairs due to incapacity or illness. The estate planning lawyers at CDH Law PLLC have helped many clients throughout the greater Syracuse area prepare for incapacity. Contact CDH Law PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about our incapacity planning services.
The Importance of Incapacity Planning
Incapacity can occur at any moment to any of us. Car accidents, illnesses, and degenerative diseases can render individuals incapable of making decisions on their own. Incapacity planning is essential for everyone, but it is vital for people with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These medical diagnoses could result in a lack of mental capacity to manage a person’s affairs.
When a loved one becomes incapacitated, the aftermath can be emotionally devastating. When family members don’t know their loved one’s preferences, they may not know how to proceed. Additionally, the day-to-day caretaking responsibilities can be emotionally draining. Worrying about the legal paperwork after an injury can be challenging. Without a plan in place, your family members will need to go through a court process to obtain guardianship or conservatorship to take care of you and make decisions for you. This process will add financial and emotional stress in an already emotionally difficult time.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney
One of the most important legal documents you can have to protect yourself in the case of incapacity is an advance healthcare directive. This type of legal document will provide your doctors with instructions on what kind of medical decisions you would like them to make in an end-of-life situation. You can also appoint a healthcare agent to make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated. New York State recognizes the following five types of advance directives:
- Healthcare proxy allows you to appoint a health care agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself
- Living will enables you to explain your healthcare wishes and leave written instructions, especially about end-of-life care
- Living will combined with a healthcare proxy will enable you to state your health care wishes and select a healthcare agent to make decisions on your behalf
- Do-Not-Resuscitate Order (DNR) will enable you to choose to do without CPR if your breathing or heartbeat stops
- Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) form is one way to document a patient’s medical treatment preferences regarding life-sustaining treatment
A Durable Power of Attorney
Creating a durable power of attorney will help you effectively plan for incapacity in several different ways. When you create a durable power of attorney, you will appoint an agent who will make financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Unlike a healthcare power of attorney, a durable power of attorney governs your financial affairs, not your medical affairs. Selecting an agent to act as your durable power of attorney will help you in the following ways:
- Appointing someone to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so
- The durable power of attorney will become effective once you sign it
- The durable power of attorney will not be effective after you pass away
- The durable power of attorney will help your loved ones avoid having to go through the guardianship process
Appointing a durable power of attorney will allow your agent to step in and make critical decisions for you immediately. Your agent will be able to pay your bills and manage your investments for you.
A Revocable Living Trust
Revocable living trusts are one of the most effective tools for incapacity planning. When you create a revocable living trust, you can still retain control over the assets you transfer into the trust. If you become incapacitated, the assets you have moved into the trust will be protected. You can appoint a successor trustee after you pass away who will manage the assets in the trust to benefit the beneficiaries. A revocable living trust will allow you to ensure that your bills are paid and your assets are protected from creditors and managed effectively while you were incapacitated.
Medicaid Planning in Syracuse
Planning for paying for long-term care is a crucial aspect of incapacity planning. Many New York residents cannot afford expensive nursing home fees, especially when many nursing homes charge over $8,000 per month. At CDH Law PLLC, our incapacity planning lawyers can help you create a plan to qualify for Medicaid benefits that will cover your nursing home expenses.
Small Business Incapacity Planning
Are you a small business owner? If so, incapacity planning is essential for the future of your business and your family’s financial future. Your family will be able to refer to the incapacity plan in case of an emergency. Your incapacity plan should discuss the short-term and long-term strategies. In the short term, your plan can identify how to notify creditors, suppliers, and customers.
You can also prioritize what actions your employee should take and who will be in charge in the interim and the long term if you are incapacitated. The incapacity plan should also define the relationship among family members, business employees, estate trustees, and anyone else involved in the selling or continued operation of the business.
Contact a Syracuse Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Would you like to work on an incapacity planning strategy or protect even more of your assets from long-term care expenses? If so, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Incapacity can happen when we least expect it, and none of us can control the future. At CDH Law PLLC, our estate planning lawyers can help you put an incapacity plan in place that will protect your assets and family when necessary. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss creating an incapacity plan.