Planning for incapacity is never a pleasant task. But there is significant risk in delaying the development of such a plan if you should become incapacitated. Most people associated this type of prolonged loss of consciousness may be elderly people suffering from mental ailments. However, young people can suffer the same type of incapacity. It is impossible to prevent temporary or prolonged incapacity. But, it is within one’s power to ensure that one’s financial affairs and medical decisions go appropriately.
Planning for incapacity is not a one size fits all. This is because the documents require tailoring to the specific needs and wishes of the client. There are certain documents that form the foundation of most planning for incapacity in Oklahoma:
Health Care Power of Attorney:
- This document allows the principal to identify a person to act as one’s agent. The agent makes medical decisions when a person is unable to make such decisions. When appointing someone to be your agent, it is important to pick someone you trust implicitly. Mainly because this person will be able to make fundamental decisions about surgical procedures, medical tests, treatment authorizations, DNR orders, artificial respiration and other extraordinary life-sustaining measures. If you empower a loved one or friend to make these decisions, it can ensure that someone you trust is the one who makes medical decisions in your best interest. It also can prevent unnecessary delays in treatment that may occur when no one has such authorization. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA): The HIPPA law was enacted to protect the privacy of your health care records and medical information. A HIPPA authorization provides a limited release. This permits you to designate someone to whom your medical providers and health insurance company have consent to share medical information.
Living Will and Oklahoma Estate Planning:
- This document, which is an “Advance Directive for Health Care”, provides information to physicians and other health care providers regarding your desires in terms of extraordinary life-extending measures. Advance directives protect the dignity of individuals to exercise self-determination over end of life decisions. This document permits you to specifically delineate the types of artificial life-prolonging measures you wish to authorize.
Power of Attorney for Financial Matters:
- While the documents above focus on medical treatment, those who are unable also need someone to manage their financial affairs. This document allows you to empower someone to manage your finances during a period of incapacity. The power of attorney can be extremely broad. It can grant authority to act on your behalf in all financial matters, or to only performing certain financial acts. An experienced Oklahoma estate planning attorney can discuss the scope of authority that is appropriate given your situation and draft the document to limit or grant powers according to your needs.
- While the person acting under a financial power of attorney has a fiduciary obligation to act in your best interest, they may have the ability to exercise significant authority and power over your property, bank accounts, assets and other financial affairs so the selection of your agent (sometimes referred to as your “Attorney in Fact”) should be carefully considered.
Estate Planning and Planning for Incapacity:
Oklahoma estate planning requires you to consider cold hard possibilities. Proper estate planning is intended to ready you for a day when taking care of yourself may not be possible. Take the steps necessary to protect you and your family memebers.