incapacity planning

What Is Incapacity Planning?

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

It may be a scary idea to confront, but the truth remains that not one of us really knows what the future holds. This, of course, can be a source of great anxiety. While the mystery of the future can hold great promise and excitement of the unknown, it can also be overwhelming, to say the least. While we may not know what the future holds, we can certainly do our best to make plans for what we may need to confront during our lifetimes. It can even bring a great sense of peace to plan for unknowns, even and sometimes especially, for the more unpleasant potential futures. Here, we will talk about incapacity planning. While no one may wish to think about the potential to be incapacitated at some point in the future, putting plans in place for this scenario can bring more peace of mind than you may at first realize.

What is Incapacity Planning?

Even those of us in the best of health are not immune to accident injury and sudden health crisis. That is why incapacity planning can be important for all of us. No one is immune from the unfortunate striking. Should you be in a situation where you are incapacitated and unable to communicate, having a plan in place can help ensure that your wishes are honored and can also remove a heavy burden from your family and loved ones who are likely already to be worried about you.

There are three main prongs to incapacity planning. A well-structured incapacity plan will address your finances, personal affairs, and healthcare preferences. To encapsulate these three prongs into an incapacity plan, there are multiple legal tools employed. For instance, a living will is a legal document that sets forth your healthcare preferences under terminal medical conditions should you lose consciousness or capacity to communicate such preferences for yourself. A Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR), on the other hand, will set forth the conditions under which you do not want any resuscitative measures, such as CPR, performed should your heart stop beating or you stop breathing. In most cases, those who put a DNR in place are suffering from a terminal illness or are at a high risk of suffering severe complications should resuscitative measures be used.

A health care surrogate is a legal tool that allows you to name a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be incapacitated and unable to communicate such preferences for yourself. A HIPAA release will permit your health care providers to disclose key medical details about your treatment that would otherwise be kept confidential. Should you be incapacitated, you will likely want certain loved ones to remain informed about your treatment and health status.

Another powerful incapacity planning tool is the durable power of attorney. Its durability feature means that the power granted to your agent by the power of attorney will survive even in the event that you, the principal, become incapacitated. Establishing a durable power of attorney allows you to select a trusted individual to manage things such as your personal and financial affairs should you be unable to do so yourself.

Minnesota Estate Planning Attorney

You may be very surprised at the peace you can find in establishing a comprehensive incapacity plan that is tailored to your unique preferences and circumstances. Unique Estate Law is here to help. Contact us today.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.