As an elder law and disability planning attorney, I am often asked for one piece of advice that I wish everyone would have. This is the easiest question to answer. By far, the most critical guidance I could offer is to tell every person to have incapacity documents in place. Incapacity documents name a person to act for you, in the event of a catastrophic debilitating event or minor injuries.
So, what are incapacity documents? A Power of Attorney, for financial affairs, and an Advanced Medical Directive for medical assistance. Both documents name an “agent” you trust to make financial and medical decisions in the event that you aren’t able to yourself.
Financial powers of attorney usually include the right to open bank accounts, withdraw funds from bank accounts, trade stock, pay bills, and cash checks. They could also include the right to give gifts. Medical powers of attorney allow the agent to make health care decisions. In all of these tasks, the agent is required to act in the best interests of the principal.
This solution is simple, right? Yes. When you take the time to prepare these two legal documents, they authority within the document allows your agents to do the following things:
1. Protect your assets if you need long term care;
2. Apply for Medicaid to pay for catastrophic injuries;
3. Hire snow removal for your property while you are vacationing;
4. Obtain private medical information to assist with making medical decisions;
5. Direct your care with a medical team if you cannot express your own wishes regarding medical treatment.
Having a trusted agent named in a Power of Attorney and a Medical Directive allows you not to worry about becoming incapacitated. These are simple legal documents which act like your insurance policy to save your assets in the event of disability. We encourage every adult to have these important documents prepared and updated as needed.
For legal guidance through the process of creating these legal documents, we welcome you to call us today at 860-271-0486.