Planning for incapacity of your loved one or for yourself is an important part of the estate planning process. Fortunately, different estate planning tools are available to help estate planners prepare for incapacity if they get to a point where they cannot direct their medical care or finances for themselves.

The most common tool used to plan for incapacity is an advance healthcare directive which is sometimes referred to as a living will. An advanced healthcare directive sets forth the estate planner’s wishes for their medical care and treatment if they become incapacitated and cannot direct it for themselves. It can also designate a trusted loved one or friend to direct the estate planner’s medical care if they cannot. An advance healthcare directive can address topics such as emergency care, resuscitation, quality of life and medical treatments the estate planner does and does not want to receive.

A durable power of attorney for healthcare may be used in some instances to compliment an advance healthcare directive. A power of attorney is another important estate planning document to help estate planners prepare for incapacity. A power of attorney can be used to designate a trusted loved one or friend to direct the estate planner’s financial affairs if they are unable to do so because of incapacity.

When estate planners fail to plan ahead for incapacity, it can be burdensome for family members and loved ones. By utilizing estate planning tools to prepare for incapacity, should the estate planner become incapacitated at some point, the estate planner and their family members can enjoy peace of mind that their wishes will be honored if the time comes.