How to Retain Control over Medical Decisions if You Become Incapacitated

One of the great challenges of estate planning is that most of the decisions made will be carried out after a person is no longer alive. 


For some people, this means that they need not worry about estate planning because they will not be around to see how it is carried out. Other people worry about estate planning and whether their wishes will end up being carried out for the exact same reason. 


The primary focus of estate planning is leaving instructions for your loved and trusted family and friends to make sure that things are properly looked after following your death or incapacity. To make sure that your healthcare decisions are properly carried out following your incapacity, this article reviews some helpful steps that you should remember to follow.


Create a Comprehensive Incapacity Plan


Even the most basic incapacity plans can addresses a number of important issues. The best way to resolve the numerous issues that arise, however, is to utilize a full range of techniques as part of planning for incapacity. 


Some of the elements that you should consider including your incapacity plan are:



  • Living wills. These documents state the type of health care that a person would like to receive or what a person refuses to receive in case he or she becomes incapacitated. Living wills only apply if you are alive and unable to make or communicate your desire for care. These wills do not contain instructions about what should be done following your death.
  • DNR orders Frequently included within living wills, these orders can also be found in separate documents that state the conditions under which a person refuses to accept life-prolonging measures. 
  • Health care power of attorney. These documents let you designate an individual who will have the legal right to make decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated and can no longer make choices on your own. 
  • Durable power of attorney. These documents allow a person to select who will have the authority to manage their financial affairs should the person become incapacitated. 
  • Revocable living trusts. These documents enable a person to designate what property should pass to inheritors without property being required to pass through the probate process.



Deciding on which of these options you should utilize can be challenging. Fortunately, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine the best way to proceed. 


Understand that Incapacity Plans Can (And Should) Change


Incapacity plans change greatly based on where a person is in their life. The way that many individuals in their 20’s handle issues of incapacity is vastly different to the decisions made by 80 year olds.


Some of the reasons why a person might decide to alter an incapacity plan include moving to a new state which has different incapacity laws, marriage as well as divorce and other relationship changes, having a child, starting a business, becoming injured, and even changes about the types of care a person would like to receive. 


No matter the exact reasons why you revise an incapacity plan, it is critical to review these documents on a periodic basis to make certain that they accurately reflect your wishes. 


Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning


If you have questions or concerns about the estate planning process, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney. 

Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule an initial free case evaluation.

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