For Mark Roberts’ Use: When we think of estate planning, we tend to think of it as, “what I want to happen after I pass away”. You may be thinking of your finances, your burial wishes, and other final considerations. However, there’s another key aspect of estate planning that we all need to consider: What happens if you’re extremely ill or injured, and cannot communicate or make decisions for yourself?

Becoming incapacitated, even if you’re expected to recover, means someone else has to step in and manage your financial and personal affairs. It’s important to consider this possibility when you make plans for your estate. You have several different options with regard to these important decisions:

Durable power of attorney. This is a legal agreement that allows you to designate someone to handle your legal and financial decisions in the event that you are unable to do so. With durable power of attorney, you avoid the need for a conservatorship.

Health care proxy. A health care proxy is the person whom you designate to make important health care decisions for you, in the event that you are incapacitated. This person may choose medical facilities, treatments, surgeries, and other major factors in your health care. Choose this person very carefully. It can be the same person you chose to handle your legal and financial matters, or someone else. You will probably want to choose someone who is very familiar with your health history and personal preferences.

Living will. Occasionally this issue is brought to life by very high-profile news stories, so you’re probably aware of the importance of a living will. This is basically a directive which tells your physician what type of life-sustaining treatment (life support) you will accept in the event that you need it.

In the event that you are incapacitated, your estate could become vulnerable if you haven’t planned for these circumstances. Rather than leaving important decisions up to chance or fate, take the time now to analyze your options and make your wishes known to your loved ones. Speak to your attorney to be sure that all of these wishes are placed in legally binding documents.


The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.