Mental incapacitation is not an issue everyone will encounter, but it is one that can come suddenly and without warning. Once someone lacks the mental capacity to write a will or create an estate plan, chances are slim that their condition will reverse significantly. If they did not prepare for such a situation, it can make life very difficult for their loved ones.
Part of a thorough estate plan should include planning for a time when you can no longer have the capacity to make certain decisions. A plan helps you and your loved ones have peace of mind about future decisions regarding your care and your estate.
Here’s what you should know about making plans in case of future mental incapacity.
What documents do I need?
As you are putting together the documents that will make up your estate plan, think about both remaining estate decisions as well as healthcare and quality of life decisions. Anything your estate plan does not address is something you should plan for. Consider adding documents such as:
- Power of attorney. A power of attorney will allow a trusted individual to make decisions regarding your health care, finances and other assets during your lifetime.
- Health care directives. A health care directive will explain your wishes for medical treatment and allow a trusted individual to authorize those actions.
These documents can assure that a trusted individual can act on your behalf if you are no longer able to make decisions regarding your health care or finances.
Know whom to trust
Entrusting someone with your health care and financial decisions is a significant responsibility. When you grant someone power of attorney, their decisions carry the same weight as if you made them yourself and contesting them can be difficult.
These should be careful decisions you make alongside your loved ones. Before you decide on the person you will name in these directives, talk to them about your wishes and their responsibility. If a loved one is not comfortable with the responsibility, you should consider asking someone else you can trust.
It is essential to talk to a skilled professional when considering adding health care directives or a power of attorney to your estate plan. While these documents can make estate planning simpler, they are powerful documents that should be executed with care.