At Heritage Law Office, our experienced attorneys can assist you with estate planning, including determining what happens to your assets if you become incapacitated. We will take the time to understand your needs and wants when planning your estate and provide an outline of your best options, including the creation of an irrevocable trust. Contact us either online or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today.
Understanding Incapacity and Its Consequences
Incapacity refers to the inability to make decisions for oneself due to physical or mental impairments. If you become incapacitated and do not have a plan in place, your assets may be distributed based on the state's laws of intestacy. This means that the court will decide who will receive your assets, and it may not align with your wishes or values.
Establishing Power of Attorney
One of the most effective ways to ensure that your wishes are carried out if you become incapacitated is to establish a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that designates someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
There are two types of power of attorney: financial and medical. A financial power of attorney grants someone the authority to manage your finances, pay bills, and make financial decisions on your behalf. A medical power of attorney grants someone the authority to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
Another effective way to ensure that your assets are protected if you become incapacitated is to establish a living trust. A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer your assets to a trust, which is managed by a trustee. You can be the initial trustee, but you must name a successor trustee to take over if you become incapacitated.
The advantage of a living trust is that it allows your assets to be managed without court intervention if you become incapacitated. This can save time and money for your loved ones, and it can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
If you become incapacitated and do not have a power of attorney or living trust in place, the court may appoint a guardian to make decisions on your behalf. A guardianship can be costly and time-consuming, and it may not align with your wishes or values.
It is important to establish a power of attorney or living trust to avoid the need for a guardianship. If you do not have these documents in place, it is crucial to contact an experienced attorney who can help you establish a plan that aligns with your wishes.
In addition to a power of attorney and living trust, it is also important to establish advanced directives. Advanced directives are legal documents that outline your healthcare wishes if you become incapacitated.
There are two types of advanced directives: a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. A living will outlines your end-of-life wishes, such as whether you want to be kept alive by artificial means. A healthcare power of attorney designates someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Contact Heritage Law Office for Assistance
If you are concerned about what happens to your assets if you become incapacitated, contact Heritage Law Office for assistance. Our experienced attorneys can help you establish a plan that aligns with your wishes and values, including the establishment of a power of attorney, living trust, and advanced directives. Contact us either online or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
If you need assistance with estate planning, including determining what happens to your assets if you become incapacitated, contact our experienced attorneys at Heritage Law Office. We can assist you with a variety of estate planning needs, including wills, trusts, and probate. Our attorneys have extensive experience in estate planning and are dedicated to providing personalized and effective legal representation.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us either online or at 414-253-8500. We are committed to helping our clients achieve their estate planning goals and protecting their assets for future generations. Let us help you plan for the future and give you peace of mind.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of making arrangements for the ownership, management, and disposal of your assets during your lifetime and upon death. It typically involves creating wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advanced healthcare directives. The goal is to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, minimize estate taxes, avoid probate, and provide for your own care if you become incapacitated.
2. What happens if I become incapacitated without an estate plan in place?
If you become incapacitated without any estate plan in place, decisions about your assets and healthcare will likely be determined by state law or court-appointed representatives. This may not align with your wishes or best interests. A court may appoint a guardian to manage your affairs, which can be a lengthy, costly, and stressful process for your loved ones.
3. What is the difference between a living trust and a will?
A living trust and a will are both legal documents that specify how your assets should be distributed upon death. However, a living trust, also known as a revocable trust, also provides for the management of your assets during your lifetime, particularly in cases of incapacity. Unlike a will, assets in a living trust avoid probate, which can save time and money. However, a will can encompass elements not addressed in a trust, such as naming a guardian for minor children.
4. What is a power of attorney and why is it important?
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated. There are two types: a financial power of attorney, which grants authority over financial decisions, and a healthcare power of attorney, which allows the appointed person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Having these documents ensures that someone you trust will make decisions that align with your wishes and best interests.
5. What are advanced directives and why do I need them?
Advanced directives are legal documents that outline your healthcare preferences in the event you become unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself. They include a living will, which states your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatments, and a healthcare power of attorney, which designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. These directives are essential in preserving your autonomy and reducing uncertainty or potential disputes about your care among family members.