Kaplin Stewart

The role of incapacitation documents within estate planning

For many in Pennsylvania, the idea of falling victim to a serious illness or injury seems like an incredibly remote possibility. This is especially true for young people who are unmarried and have no children. While the risk of a young person becoming incapacitated is remote, it is not outside of the realm of possibility. Young adults should set aside the time to create a plan for such a set of circumstances and to draft the estate planning documents that outline those plans.

Incapacitation planning begins with selecting the party or parties who would be entrusted with handling one’s health care and finances in the event of a serious illness or injury. It is imperative to discuss the matter with the chosen person, so that the role and the expectations are clearly defined. It is also important to make sure that the designated party knows where the documents are stored and can access them if the need should arise.

It is also important to outline any specific wishes that one has in regard to medical treatment. Some people hold strong beliefs about blood transfusions, organ donation and the application of life support technologies. These wishes should be laid out within the estate planning paperwork, so that one’s chosen proxy will have clear guideline on how to make decisions.

As with any estate planning documents, it is important for Pennsylvania young people to make a periodic review of their plan once it has been put into place. Over time, changes may be called for, and it may be best to select new proxies to assist in carrying out incapacitation wishes. The most important thing is to have a set of plans in place, so that loved ones will know how to proceed in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury.

Source: Wicked Local, Scituate, “PLANNING MATTERS: Singles still need an estate plan“, Leanna Hamill, Feb. 19, 2016