Disability/ Incapacity planning is planning for lifetime control over financial and healthcare decision making. When you are alive and able, you can make your own life decisions. But what if this decision-making ability is lost to disability or incapacity? Many are under the mistaken impression that a spouse, parent, or adult child can automatically step in and make decisions on their behalf if they become unable to make decisions on their own. However, the law offers no such default for anyone 18 years old or older.
Proper incapacity planning allows you to hand-pick those you trust and empower them to act on your behalf. Moreover, it binds your appointed individuals to follow a specific set of instructions designed to meet your stated goals and objectives. If you want your family to be able to immediately manage your healthcare decisions or your finances in the event you are unable, you must designate them in the proper legal documents called the Powers of Attorney. Everyone 18 years old or older should have two types of Powers of Attorney: the General Durable Power of Attorney and the Healthcare Power of Attorney. Without these documents, the only other option is court intervention. Your loved ones will have to petition a court for guardianship over you, which can be time consuming, costly, and stressful.
Living will (also known as an advance medical directive or a declaration to physician) comes into play when you are no longer able to make medical decisions on your own. This legal document allows you to indicate which medical procedures—such as cardiac resuscitation, respirator, and feeding tubes—you want to be used, withheld, or discontinued when you are unable to give your own oral direction.
The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act) Privacy Rule provides federal protection for personal health information held by your health care provider. This federal law prevents your health care provider from sharing any information with anyone, unless you give them permission to do so. The HIPAA Authorization we draft allows you to list your loved ones as authorized recipients for health care disclosure so your health care providers can keep them informed of your health status if necessary.
These documents are deceptively complex and can cause many unintended results if not drafted and executed properly. We assist clients in preparing the right documents that enable them to retain a lifetime of control without court intervention. Through the use of trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives, our clients are able to: (1) maintain control over financial, legal, and property matters; (2) maintain control over personal health care and medical matters; and (3) control over the care and nurturing of minor children and other dependents.