The primary focus of your estate plan may be the distribution of your estate assets when you are gone; however, a comprehensive estate plan will accomplish much more than just creating a roadmap for the division of your estate upon your death. Exactly which additional components you decide to include in your estate plan will be a personal decision based on your unique needs and goals. One additional component that should be found in every estate plan, however, is incapacity planning. The Indianapolis incapacity planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft explain how to plan for incapacity.
What Is Meant by the Term “Incapacity?”
When you hear the word “incapacity” you may immediately envision an older individual suffering from Alzheimer’s, or a similar age-related condition. While age related dementia diseases do cause incapacity, they are not the only cause nor the only type of incapacity. In fact, incapacity can be caused by a virtually endless number of scenarios. A tragic car accident could leave you incapacitated as could a debilitating illness. Anything that leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself – healthcare and/or personal – falls within the definition of “incapacity.”
How Likely Am I to Suffer Incapacity?
Most people are shocked when they hear some of the statistics relating to incapacity. For example, you stand a one in five chance of being incapacitated at some point during your working years. If you are an otherwise healthy woman, you stand a 24 percent chance of suffering a disability that last three months or longer during your working career. You have a 38 percent chance that the disability will last for five years or longer. Once you enter into your retirement years, the odds of becoming incapacitated increase dramatically, due in large part to the odds of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another age-related dementia condition. One in three seniors is suffering from Alzheimer’s, or a similar condition, at the time of their death. The odds are probably higher than you imagined them to be. Given your odds of suffering from incapacity at some point down the road, shouldn’t you plan for it just in case?
Why Is Incapacity Planning Important?
Understanding how likely you are to become incapacitated is only part of the equation. The other half is understanding what could happen if you do become incapacitated and you failed to plan for the possibility. Imagine that incapacity strikes tomorrow. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who will take over control of your assets, including financial accounts and your home?
- Who will pay your bills?
- Who will take care of your minor children?
- Who will make healthcare decisions for you?
- Who will make personal decisions for you?
Unless you planned ahead, the answer to all of those questions will likely be in the hands of a judge. Moreover, your loved ones could wind up in a protracted, and costly, legal battle over the right to control your assets and/or make decisions for you. Do not assume that a spouse will always have the right to take over in the event of your incapacity unless you have specifically granted your spouse that right in your incapacity plan.
How Can Incapacity Planning Help?
By including an incapacity planning component in your comprehensive estate plan, you alleviate the possibility of your loved ones battling over the right to control you and/or your assets. More importantly, you get to decide yourself who will fill those roles in the event of your incapacity. Knowing who will take over control of our finances and assets will give your peace of mind as will knowing who will have the legal authority to make medical and/or personal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
Contact Indianapolis Incapacity Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about incapacity planning, contact the experienced Indianapolis incapacity planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.