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Plan for incapacity when you make your estate plan

You may or may not experience a time of incapacity in your life, but it is good to make plans as if you will. If you are in a car accident or become very ill in California, you may be unable to make decisions about your health care and finances. To make certain that those around you fulfill your requests, you need to have a set of documents in place setting down your wishes.

Estate planning documents

Unfortunately, there is no one document that will cover everything you may want. You can choose between a set of documents that meet your needs, planning for financial, personal and health decisions. Talking with a lawyer may let you know which documents you need and help you avoid common problems. Here are common documents that many people work on with their estate planning lawyers:

  • Living will – This lays out your health care desires and specifies what you do not want.
  • Health care power of attorney – This empowers one or more people to make health care decisions that you have not already laid out in your living will.
  • Durable power of attorney for finances – This names one or more people to take care of your finances. It can be your family member, a lawyer, a bank or another entity.
  • Revocable living trust – This speeds the transfer of decision-making power by avoiding the probate process.
  • Do not resuscitate order – This sets a point after which you do not want to be brought back if your heart or breathing stops.
  • HIPAA release – This assures you that decision-makers can access and use information from your health care team.

What incapacity planning does

Filling out the estate documents that you may need allows your wishes to be carried forward even if you cannot say so yourself. These documents can stop families from fighting over who knew you best and who can decide. It can ensure that the person you want to make choices, like an unmarried life partner, a sibling or an attorney, is legally able to so.

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