Estate planning might prove more challenging than someone expects. Drawing up a last will and testament may not be the only responsibility someone has. Health issues could leave someone worried about becoming incapacitated. So, estate planning may involve making arrangements to deal with incapacitation. Hopefully, effective planning will make things easier for California family members if a tragic situation develops.
Taking steps for incapacity planning
An incapacitated person suffers from a mental decline that makes the person unable to handle personal, legal, financial, or other affairs. A person might become incapacitated due to the long-term effects of an illness or from an acute injury. Someone who falls off a bicycle and suffers a traumatic brain injury could be fully incapacitated. Those who are on life support certainly are unable to handle personal business.
So, who takes over the responsibilities of an incapacitated person? With thorough estate planning, documents should exist that name a qualified representative.
Power of attorney forms
A durable power of attorney would name an agent-in-fact to serve as an incapacitated person’s personal representative. Putting together durable POA forms is vital, as non-durable POA designations might be invalid when someone is incapacitated.
A durable financial power of attorney designation allows someone to access bank accounts, pay bills, file taxes, and handle various other duties. A financial power of attorney does not extend to health care matters. Health care POA documents, such as a health care proxy, would designate someone as an agent for health and medical-oriented decisions.
Be mindful that the documents must be legal under state law. California law spells out specific elements that make a power of attorney document valid.