Retirement, estate, and incapacity planning are component facets that elder law attorneys handle in behalf of their clients, and of course these issues are more relevant to those who are in the latter stages of their lives than they are to younger people. Yet, there are no guarantees and we are all aware of the fact that people of all ages are challenged by devastating illnesses and involved in serious car crashes and other accidents each and every day.
So the fact is that estate planning is something that everyone needs to take seriously, and every comprehensive estate plan of the 21st-century should address the subject of incapacity. One of the things about estate planning that makes it different from most forms of financial planning is that you personally will not benefit from the effort; you are doing it to provide for your family. Incapacity planning serves the same purpose to a large extent.
Yes, it is important for many individuals to maintain control of their medical decision-making for their own reasons. But you also want to make sure that your loved ones are not faced with the prospect of having to make these excruciating decisions in your behalf without knowledge of your wishes.
The way that you legally assert yourself with regard to possibly incapacity is through the execution of advance health care directives. The most commonly used directives are the living will and the durable medical power of attorney.
The living will is used as a vehicle for expressing your desires in terms of the forms of medical treatment that you be willing to accept should you fall into an incapacitated state. The issue of being kept alive on life support is central to most living wills.
The durable medical power of attorney is executed to name someone who you empower to make medical decisions in your behalf should you become incapacitated at some point in time. Between the two of them you cover all your bases and you can be certain that health care decisions made in your behalf will be made in accordance with your own stated wishes or those communicated to your representative in advance.