When you hear the words estate planning, you may automatically think about establishing documents to ensure the right people inherit your stuff when you die. And you are not wrong- putting a proper plan in place to protect and pass on your wealth and other assets is a fundamental part of the planning equation.
But it may not be the most critical part.
Planning that is focused solely on who gets what when you die is ignoring the fact that death is not the only thing you must prepare for. You must also consider that at some point, you could be incapacitated by accident, illness, age, or pandemic!
When we discuss with our clients what would happen if you or a spouse is incapacitated, most are surprised about what could and would happen if they don’t plan accordingly.
Like death, none of us knows what the future holds and we are all at risk of experiencing a devastating accident or disease that renders us incapable of caring for ourselves or our loved ones. But unlike death, incapacity comes with an uncertain outcome and timeframe.
Incapacity can be a temporary event from which you eventually recover, or it can be the start of a long and costly crisis that ultimately results in your death. Incapacity also has the potential to drag out over many years, leaving you and your family in an agonizing limbo.
This uncertainty is what makes incapacity planning so incredibly important.
In fact, incapacity can be a far greater burden for your loved ones than your death. This is true not only in terms of its potentially devastating financial costs, but also for the emotional trauma, contentious court battles, and internal conflict your family may suffer through if you fail to address it in your plan.
The goal of effective estate planning is to keep your family out of court and out of conflict no matter what happens to you. So if you only plan for your death, you’re leaving your family—and yourself—extremely vulnerable to potentially tragic consequences.
Where to start
You may be powerless to prevent incapacity, but proper estate planning can at least give you control over how your care and assets will be managed if it does occur. In addition, planning can prevent your loved ones from enduring needless trauma, conflict, and expense during this already difficult time.
If you’ve yet to plan for incapacity, or would like your current estate plan reviewed, contact us today for a free consultation. We specialize in estate planning and elder law, and we look forward to helping you create a plan you have confidence in!