When you think about protecting and providing for your loved ones, the possibility of your death is not the only reason to have an estate plan in place.

What happens if you become incapacitated tomorrow? Do you have a plan in place that protects you and your loved ones for that potential scenario? If not, you should.

Isn’t Incapacity Planning for the Elderly?

When many people think of the possibility of becoming incapacitated, they think of someone who is in their retirement years suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. While dementia certainly does lead to incapacity, you do not have to be older nor suffering from dementia to be incapacitated. On the contrary, you could become incapacitated at any age and for any reason. Consider the
following facts and figures:

  • More than 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire
  • A typical 35-year-old has a 24 percent chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during his or her working career.

Moreover, that same worker has a 38 percent chance that the disability would last 5 years or longer, with the average disability for someone like him or her lasting 82 months.

What Happens If You Do Become Incapacitated?

While you can certainly hope that you never suffer an incapacitating event, the reality is that a catastrophic car accident or a debilitating illness could render you incapacitated tomorrow. If that happens, are you prepared? Can you answer the following questions?

  • Who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them?
  • Who will take over control of your assets and property?
  • Who will handle paying your bills and monitor your finances?
  • Who will make personal decisions for you such as where you will live?

If you cannot answer these questions, you are not prepared, and you need to consider adding an incapacity planning component to your overall estate plan.

What Is Incapacity Planning?

A well-drafted and comprehensive estate plan should accomplish a wide range of inter-related goals. Creating a blueprint for the distribution of your estate assets when you are gone is just one of those goals. For many people, incapacity planning is an integral component in their overall estate plan.

Consequently, estate planning lawyers can certainly help you create your incapacity plan. Exactly what you include in your incapacity plan will have to be decided during a consultation with your estate planning attorney; however, a popular incapacity planning tool is a revocable living trust. As the creator of the trust, you name yourself as the Trustee, and create the trust terms. You also name the individual you wish to take over control of your assets in the event of your incapacity as the Successor Trustee. You then transfer major assets into the trust. In the event of your incapacity, the person you named as the Successor Trustee will take over your role as Trustee automatically. By doing so, he or she will also gain control over your most important estate assets.

Whether you decide a revocable living trust is right for your plan or not, the important thing is to include an incapacity planning component in your estate plan.

Contact the attorneys at Sinclair Prosser Gasior to discuss your planning needs today.

Laura Curry
Laura T. Curry is an attorney at Sinclair Prosser specializing in wills, trusts and estate planning.