Planning for incapacity as part of an estate plan

Some people in Nevada who have created a will or a trust may feel that they have completed all the necessary estate planning documents. However, they may not have prepared documents that deal with becoming incapacitated. A health care directive, also known as a durable health care powers of attorney, a medical directive or a living will, is an important part of this planning, and most Americans do not have one.

This document appoints someone to make medical decisions on a person’s behalf. It may also outline a person’s wishes for care in case of incapacity as well as end-of-life care. It may address what the person wants done with the body, whether that is cremation, burial, donation of some or all organs or whole-body donation for research. It can even specify the person’s wishes for a funeral.

Many people choose a spouse for this role. Other candidates might be adult children or other family members or friends. The most important thing is having a conversation with the individual appointed. The individual who makes these decisions should understand the person’s wishes. The individual will then step into this role as necessary, including taking charge of the person’s body after death if the person has specified wishes at this stage.

It is important to select the right person for this and other roles in the estate plan. For example, the individual selected to have health care powers of attorney should be compassionate and able to make decisions under pressure. It may help if the individual has medical training although it is not necessary. One of the most important roles is that of the executor. The executor is appointed in the last will and testament. This person is responsible for overseeing the estate and distributing assets and should be organized and responsible.

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