Planning for Incapacity Can Provide Critical Peace of Mind for You and Your Family
Planning for incapacity is a core aspect of the estate planning process. While most people tend to focus on the aspect of distributing their assets after death, planning for events that can happen during your lifetime is equally important.
In general terms, “incapacity” refers to the inability to make decisions about your healthcare or finances due to an illness or injury. If you are deemed legally incapacitated, then someone else will need to make these decisions on your behalf. Failing to appoint someone (or to provide clear direction with a healthcare directive or living will) leaves many questions unanswered, and it can leave family members in the unenviable position of not knowing what to do and needing to ask a judge to intervene.
Avoiding Confusion and Disputes with Incapacity Planning
For most people, incapacity planning serves two primary functions: (i) providing certainty regarding healthcare decision-making, and (ii) providing certainty regarding financial management. For business owners, incapacity planning can (and generally should) address management and control of the business during periods of temporary or permanent incapacity as well.
In Ohio and Kentucky, doctors are severely restricted in their ability to take direction from patients and family members in cases of incapacity. To ensure that you can obtain necessary medical treatment according to your own personal desires, beliefs and preferences, there are three primary estate planning tools available:
- Healthcare Directives
- Healthcare Powers of Attorney
- Living Wills
Each of these forms of documentation comes with its own unique benefits and limitations, and Attorney Jim Singler can help you choose and prepare the healthcare decision-making tools that best suit your individual circumstances.
For financial management in the event of incapacity, the primary estate planning tool is the financial power of attorney (sometimes referred to as a “durable power of attorney,” although the term “durable” has its own unique connotations). Similar to a healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney can be used to appoint someone to manage your finances on your behalf, to provide specific direction regarding financial management, or to provide a blend of direction and discretion. While many people find this third option to be most palatable, there are a variety of factors to consider when putting together a financial power of attorney.
Business Management and Control
A comprehensive business succession plan will lay the groundwork for a smooth transition at the time of death. However, an incapacitating injury or illness could necessitate a temporary or permanent transfer of management and control prior to death as well. Jim has significant experience working with business owners to prepare inter-vivos business succession plans that help ensure business continuity without unnecessarily sacrificing ownership or control.
Learn More about Incapacity Planning
For more information about the benefits of incapacity planning and the options that are available in Ohio and Kentucky, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To request an appointment with Attorney Jim Singer, please call 513-486-0000 or inquire online today.