Planning for Incapacity

Oct 18, 2022 | Distinctive Care, Estate Planning & Administration

Most people understand the value of a Last Will and Testament due to the inevitability of death, but individuals are often less likely to plan for the possibility that they might become mentally or physically incapacitated and unable to manage their own finances and personal affairs, whether permanently or temporarily. Proactively planning for incapacity can provide invaluable protections for you, ensure your wishes are followed, and reduce the burden placed on your family and loved ones.

In addition to establishing a will, other important documents to consider include power of attorney(s). A healthcare or financial power of attorney can give the individual(s) you select the authority to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated. Alternatively, advance directives (e.g., a living will or do-not-resuscitate (DNR)) help guide the specific decisions of doctors and caregivers if you become incapacitated and incapable of expressing your wishes regarding your medical treatment. A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization should also be considered, as it gives medical providers permission to release and share an individual’s medical information with the person(s) you designate. Planning for the unimaginable may help avoid unnecessary guilt and stress and relieve caregivers of decision-making burdens during unexpected medical emergencies.

A living or revocable trust is another instrument individuals can use to avoid or overcome the challenges that may occur at incapacity. In the event of the grantor’s incapacity, a revocable trust dictates who will manage the trust and financial affairs, which could prevent the need for competency hearings and court proceedings to appoint a conservator or guardian of the assets. A revocable trust can be used to coordinate and implement all the services necessary to improve the quality of care and the quality of life of an incapacitated individual. It can also protect assets from predators who may try to take advantage of someone more vulnerable. At death, a revocable trust designates a successor trustee and outlines distribution of the trust’s assets. Some select this option to avoid a lengthy probate process and protect the privacy of the grantor and beneficiaries of the trust.

If there comes a time that a person can no longer manage his or her affairs, a trust permits a trustee to step in to support the family in caring for their loved one. As an independent, directed trust company, the Cumberland Trust team is composed of sensitive, caring professionals who have an exceptional ability to work with critical and complex situations specific to each family. We coordinate a full range of tailored Distinctive Care services to ease the family’s concern and provide support and stability to any beneficiary with unique needs.