Defining "Incapacitated" Regarding Estate Plans

You may hear the term incapacitated when speaking about a will, medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, or living trust. Something along the lines of, when the subject becomes incapacitated or dies, such and such will occur.


What does that word mean, incapacitated? Does it mean if they pass out? Does it mean when they are in a coma? What about dementia or physical paralysis? Read on to learn more about the term "incapacitated" in your estate plan.


Incapacitated Defined


The term incapacitated means you are not able to care for yourself, including physical care and the ability to make financial decisions. For example, an incapacitated person would not be able to create a will.


In order for the directions in a will or trust to take effect, the person must be determined incapacitated by a judge. Therefore, even if your loved one is in a coma, they are not incapacitated until a judge deems them so and appoints a guardian, including medical power of attorney and financial power of attorney.


If the guardian is spelled out in the will, the judge defers to the instructions in the will or trust. If no estate plans are present, the judge appoints a guardian that makes the most sense. This could include the current spouse, adult child, or sibling.


Why Is Estate Planning So Important?


If you were to suffer an accident and become incapacitated, you have the opportunity to appoint someone that you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. You can also name a trusted family member to take care of your financial dealings.


Incapacitation is different in that it is not permanent. Someone may be incapacitated for a time and then find their way back to good health. While you are ailing, you do not want someone to make poor financial decisions on your behalf. Instead, you want a plan in place so you can always know that your best interest is being considered.


Let us help you prepare for the unexpected at Miles & Hatcher, LLP. We can walk you through your estate planning and ensure that every detail is covered. Stop putting off your estate plan today. Instead, give us a call to schedule a free consultation: (909) 481-4080.

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