No one ever wants to imagine themselves getting an illness or injury that leaves them incapacitated. Unfortunately, if you do not consider and plan for incapacity, you and your family could be much worse off if tragedy strikes. When an illness or an injury leaves you unable to communicate, make choices on your medical care, and manage your assets, having a plan in place will provide your family with the tools they need to act.
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC provides comprehensive assistance with incapacity planning to clients throughout Vermont and in the Capital Region of New York. We will work with you to make the process of planning for tragedy as stress free as possible and to ensure that you can maintain autonomy and protect your family by putting a smart plan in place in advance. Give us a call today in Vermont at 802-879-7133 or in Albany, NY at (518) 389-6020 to get personalized advice on incapacity planning and to get answers to your questions about planning for incapacity including:
- Why is incapacity planning important?
- What should be part of an incapacity plan?
- How can an incapacity planning lawyer help?
Why is Incapacity Planning Important?
Incapacity planning is very important because of the need to make provisions in advance for what will happen to you and your assets if something happens to you. Unexpected illnesses and injuries tragically strike every day and often leave people unable to communicate and express preferences for their medical choices.
Without a plan, your family members would need to go to court and initiate guardianship proceedings. A judge would have to evaluate whether you are really incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs, which is a process that takes time. As your family waits for guardianship proceedings to resolve, your assets may be mismanaged. A judge would then appoint a guardian – which may not be someone who you would actually want handling your assets. The court will then stay involved in what the guardian is doing, intruding on private family matters. All of this can be avoided with an incapacity plan.
Without a plan, your family could also disagree on who should make your medical decisions for you and on what kinds of care you want. There have been many family fights over whether extraordinary measures should be used to try to save a life or over whether someone should be kept alive by artificial means. You could be caught in the middle of such a fight, given medical care you do not want and unable to do anything about it. A plan can help you to avoid this fate and can spare your family the tough choice of deciding whether to prolong your life or let you go.
What Should Be Part of an Incapacity Plan?
Generally, an incapacity plan contains two primary components: advanced directives addressing medical care and a power of attorney and/or living trusts providing instructions for asset management.
You can create a Do Not Resuscitate order to prevent emergency measures from being used to bring you back to life. You could also use a Living Will to specify what types of medical care you actually do want to receive under certain circumstances. For decisions which aren’t made in advance, you can name a healthcare proxy who will have the authority to speak on your behalf and make decisions on medical care when you cannot.
For asset protection, a springing durable power of attorney would give an agent of your choosing the authority to act to manage your assets and financial affairs when you no longer can communicate or make decisions on your property and investments. A springing power of attorney means it goes into effect only if you actually become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney means it stays in effect even after incapacity.
There are also other types of power of attorney which your lawyer can discuss with you. Living trusts, on the other hand, allow you to name a backup trustee who can take charge of assets you have put into the trust.
How Can a Albany Incapacity Planning Lawyer Help?
A Vermont or Albany incapacity planning lawyer can provide you with guidance on what you need to include in your incapacity plan and can assist you in the formal steps of creating your plan. Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC provides assistance to clients in Burlington, Essex Junction, Montpelier, Rutland, White River Junction, St. Johnsbury, Newport and surrounding locations throughout the state of Vermont. We also serve the Capital Region of New York with an office in Albany. To learn more about how we can assist you in making an incapacity plan so you and your loved ones will know what to do if something happens to you, give us a call in Vermont at 802-879-7133 or in Albany at (518) 389-6020 or contact us online.