Many individuals believe that incapacity planning is exclusively for individuals near retirement age and that only the elderly may benefit from this. However, accidents may happen at any moment and leave us mentally and physically unable to function as we had before. A vehicle accident, for example, may put victims in a coma. Additionally, medical events such as a stroke can significantly impair one’s ability to care for themselves, while illnesses like Alzheimer’s erode a person’s mental capability over time. Studies show that most adults will be incapacitated for a period during their lives, some for many years. But if you prepare ahead of time, you can choose a representative to act on your behalf if you cannot handle your affairs. If you do not have a proper incapacity plan ready, others will make this choice for you.
- Deaths, Disability, or Other Changes in the Family
You should consider whether the individuals named in your planning documents such as medical powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney, wills and/or revocable trusts, have died. While a well drafted plan will include provisions that provide for an alternate distribution of your assets or an alternate executor, for example, if people in your plan have passed, you should consider updating your documents to make sure they cover your life as it is now. Other changes can trigger a need to change your plans. The person you named as executor may have moved across the country. Additionally, a person named as an agent, trustee, or executor may have become disabled physically or mentally. A child may have developed an issue with drugs or alcohol, and you need to remove the child as an alternate agent under your power of attorney or establish a trust for them to prevent them from squandering their share of the estate. All are good reasons to revisit your plan and make changes.