As adults, we are granted certain rights. One of the things we have the right to do, as adults, is to deputize trusted family members and friends, giving to them the power and authority to act in our stead.
Incapacity Planning is the process of determining who those people are, and figuring out what rights they should be given. If you are in a coma, who should be able to speak to the doctor for you? Who should be able to access your bank account to pay that doctor’s bill? If you do not decide these things for yourself in advance, making your wishes clear in documents like Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Advance Directives, then nobody may have the power to speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself. In such an event, a court might be required to step in to establish a guardianship on your behalf. Guardianship has its place, but to the extent lesser restrictive (and more inexpensive) alternatives are available, it is often best avoided.
CREATE A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
Help your family avoid the expensive and bureaucratic guardianship process by self-selecting trusted individuals to act on your behalf with regard to your legal and financial affairs, whether you are incapacitated or not.
CREATE HEALTH CARE ADVANCE DIRECTIVES
Health Care Advance Directives are comprised of several parts: they include a health care surrogate designation and health care power of attorney, where you designate people to have the authority to act on your behalf with regard to your health care decision making. They also may include a living will, where you instruct your doctors and your surrogates what to do (or what not to do) should a life-or-death decision have to be made for you.