Estate Planning does not only encompass death-time planning, but also disability or incapacity during life.
For example, if you were badly injured in a car crash on I-35 in Dallas and unable to make your own medical decisions, who would make them for you? If you do not have the documents below, your loved ones will have to go to court, and the court will decide who makes your medical decisions.
It is important to have the following documents:
1. Durable Power of Attorney: Names individuals to make your business and financial decisions for you in the event of incapacity or disability.
2. Medical Power of Attorney: Names individuals to make your medical and health care decisions for you in the event of incapacity or disability.
3. Living Will: Declares your wishes with respect to life-prolonging treatments and procedures.
4. HIPAA Authorization: Permits you to name individuals to have access to your medical information and records.
5. Declaration of Guardian: Names individuals who will be the guardian of your person and your estate in the event of incapacity. If you have minor children you would also need a Declaration of Guardian. It names the individual who will be the guardian of your children in the event of your incapacity.
If you do not take control and include this incapacity planning in your estate plan, the Courts and State will make these decisions for you. The State of Texas dictates the priority of who can serve to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Unfortunately, the person who the Court may choose may be the last person you would ever want to make these decisions for you. It is important that you plan for the unknown and what you would do should you become disabled or incapacitated.
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