Matthew S. Payne is a Schaumburg-based attorney with a 20-year record of success in civil litigation, real estate law and estate planning.

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What does incapacity planning involve?

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2021 | Estate Planning

Estate planning involves thinking about mortality, which is why Illinois residents may write a last will and testament. However, a will is not the only type of document that might be needed for estate planning. Many documents serve vital purposes when someone is still alive as well. Sadly, a person could become mentally incapacitated, and estate planning steps may address such an unfortunate situation.

Family member’s and a relative’s incapacity

When people’s mental faculties decline, they might be unable to make decisions on their own. Although someone becomes incapacitated, many responsibilities do not disappear. The person may collect a pension and have significant assets, meaning tax and other liabilities are present.

A friend or relative may address monetary and several personal matters with a valid power of attorney. Awarding someone “attorney-in-fact” status allows the individual to legally make decisions or take actions on the grantor’s behalf. Power of attorney abilities let someone file another person’s taxes, sign checks, deal with utility companies and banks, and other issues.

Health-related incapacity duties

A health care power of attorney allows an agent to make medical and health-related decisions for someone. So, doctors and other health care providers would deal with the agent rather than the patient. Drawing up a HIPAA release might be further helpful when transferring health care authority to others.

Some may devise a living will and “do not resuscitate order,” two documents that establish a patient’s wishes if he or she suffers an incapacitating event, such as a heart attack. The living will may spell out acceptable medical care or rely on the DNR order to cease treatment.

A critical point bears mentioning here. This type of estate planning requires taking steps before becoming incapacitated. Documents signed by someone impaired or otherwise not of sound mind might not be legally valid.