Hopefully, you realize the need to have a comprehensive estate plan in place; however, do you also know that you need to include an incapacity plan in your estate plan? Like many people, you may think of old age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s when you think of the possibility of becoming incapacitated. While Alzheimer’s, or another similar condition, could render you incapacitated later on in life you could also suffer a period of temporary or permanent incapacity at any time during your life before you reach old age. Therefore, you should include incapacity planning in your overall estate plan to ensure that you and your assets are protected should incapacity strike.
Statistically speaking you stand a one in five chance of becoming incapacitated, at least temporarily, before you reach retirement age. A catastrophic motor vehicle accident, a debilitating disease or illness, or even a workplace injury could all lead to incapacity at any time. Should that happen, who will take over control of your assets? Who will make decisions regarding your medical care? Who will decide where you live and what doctors you treat with during your incapacity? Unless you have an incapacity plan in place the answer to all of these questions is “I don’t know.” Worse still, if a court is forced to decide you could end up with people you would never have chosen making those decisions for you and controlling your assets.
Imagine that you are involved in a horrible collision tomorrow that renders you incapacitated. Without an incapacity plan in place someone will have to step forward and petition for the legal right to control your assets during your incapacity. If more than one person petitions for the right, a legal battle could ensue. Not only could this waste consider time and money but it could create a rift on your family that may never heal. Ultimately, a court will have to decide who to appoint – and it might not be the person you would want controlling your assets. The same goes for making decisions about you and your medical treatment. All of this could have been avoided, however, had you simply made those decisions yourself in an incapacity plan.
If you have an existing estate plan that does not have an incapacity planning component, or you have yet to create your comprehensive estate plan, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.