Account for Disability in Your Estate Planning

Account for disability in estate planning

Please, plan for disability.

No one wants to think about dying—not when there is so much life left to live. However, planning for the inevitable is a smart and pragmatic move that could save your loved ones a lot of heartache, and possibly money, when the day comes that they must learn to live without you. For their sake, an Estate Plan should be a must. You can’t stop at creating a Will, though. You really should consider several different possibilities, including the chance of disability at some point in your life—particularly during the last months, weeks, or even hours of your life.

Planning for Disability

Estate planning is not only about carrying out our wishes when we die, though that’s a good place to start. A thorough plan will also take care of you while you are living. Durable Powers of Attorney and Medical Directives give your loved ones the authority to make medical and financial decisions for you in the event that you are incapable. 

Even without a condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, simply aging can bring with it a loss of mental capacity and leave you unable to manage your finances or health care. You may also become incapacitated due to an unforeseen event, such as a car or work accident. You deserve to have someone on your side, making decisions that are best for you and your loved ones.

Documents You May Expect

Navigating the documents you’ll need when Estate Planning is always best left to a qualified and experienced attorney. However, you can enter the process with an idea of the various types of documentation that make up a solid and thoughtful Estate Plan. 

  • Durable Powers of Attorney: Provides authority to a loved one to make legal decisions on your behalf.
  • Medical Directives: Gives a loved one the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • DNR Order: Instructs healthcare providers not to resuscitate. May also be known as an Allow Natural Death order (AND). 
  • Living Will: Legal instructions for your preferences for medical care if you’re unable to speak those wishes.  

Avoiding Potential Arguments 

Don’t wait until it is too late to put these documents in place. The late, great blues singer Etta James signed her power of attorney when she was of questionable mental competency. Etta signed a Power of Attorney (POA) in 2008 appointing her son from a previous marriage as her agent. Etta’s husband later claimed that she was already suffering from dementia and was not competent when she signed the POA. Both her husband and son sought to use her estate to provide her care at home. Her husband wanted to manage the million-dollar estate himself; her son wished to appoint a third party to avoid conflict and discrepancies. The two battled each other in court for several years, finally settling the matter shortly before Etta died.

Fights between spouses and children from a former marriage happen often when someone develops dementia or becomes incapacitated. Having the proper legal documents in place early, before there is a question of competence, is of the utmost importance.

Durable Power of Attorney, Directive to Physicians, DNR Order, Living Will…. these are just a few of the documents that you may consider when putting together your Estate Plan. We can help you determine which documents are right for you. Contact us at 210-368-9708 to schedule an Estate Planning consultation.

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