Planning for Incapacity
Incapacity comes in all forms. It occurs when someone is unable to make important decisions regarding their finances, day-to-day health care, or end of life treatment. Incapacity can approach slowly over time if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS. It can occur suddenly due to an accident, injury, or illness. Incapacity may be short-term or long-term.
Proper planning can mitigate the uncertainty, stress, and heartache that accompanies such incapacitating events. Appointing and authorizing an agent you trust can provide some peace of mind during these trying times. Financial Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Advance Directives are all important documents to our planning, and we will regularly bundle them with estate plans of all types.
The first thing many of our clients notice is that our Powers of Attorney look very different from what you will usually find on the internet or from other online resources. This is because we carefully craft our documents to the expected needs of the client. As such, they address many issues not thought of by the client nor found in boilerplate forms.
Making Health Care Decisions
In 1990, Tennessee adopted the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Act. These statutes allowed any competent person to designate an agent to make health care decisions for them in the event of incapacity. The law has evolved over the years. It has expanded to allow patients to designate they types of mental health treatments they want, as well as provide clearer guidelines on how facilities treat an agent’s ability to make health care decisions for a resident.
We often trust that our loved ones will know the type or extent of treatment that we are comfortable with. However, there are several moving parts when we charge them with making these decisions. The professional opinions of treating physicians, the wishes and needs of the family, the legal authority to act, and your own intent are all important. It is imperative to leave your family with some direction on the types of treatment you find acceptable or unacceptable under various conditions, as well as giving the right person clear authority to act on your behalf.
Making Financial Decisions
Financial Powers of Attorney delegate authority to an agent to make financial decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. The appointment of a financial agent is important and must be taken with the utmost care and caution. It will be the individual that is responsible for paying your bills, contracting with facilities or government entities, and protecting your money when you cannot.
Without a properly appointed agent, it may be necessary to seek the intervention of the court to have important financial decisions made on your behalf. Unfortunately, this can lead to additional time, money, and expense on the part of your family. A comprehensive financial power of attorney can alleviate this need and provide additional security in the future.
Let Us Help You Craft A Meaningful Power of Attorney: