Designating fiduciary agents in your estate plan prepares you for incapacity.
People do not plan to become incapacitated.
It simply happens to them.
Although accidents and illnesses are often surprises, you should prepare such possibilities.
According to a recent Pocono Record article titled “Fiduciary Agents have power to make decisions you’d prefer to make yourself,” you should start by meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney.
He or she will be able to properly counsel you regarding and then create a general durable power of attorney and an advance health care directive for you.
These two documents are essential components of incapacity planning because they allow you to designate fiduciary agents of your choosing.
If you become incapacitated without these documents in place, the court will need to designate a conservator to make your financial decisions and a guardian to make personal and medical decisions on your behalf.
This could be a stranger or a family member you regard as untrustworthy, even if he or she cleans up well.
Instead, you likely would want to retain control over who acts on your behalf, especially at a time when you cannot make decisions yourself.
The fiduciary agents named in a general durable power of attorney can manage your financial affairs while you are still alive.
You can choose to make their authority broad and encompassing or more limited in scope.
With an advance health care directive, you will be choosing the fiduciary agents who are responsible for making healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot communicate these yourself due to injury or illness.
Either way, these documents must be legally executed prior to your incapacity.
Who should you select as fiduciary agents?
These individuals should be trustworthy and responsible.
Some people even choose to have one person serve in both roles.
This can certainly simplify situations where nursing home care is required.
Having more than one agent can trigger conflict when the two individuals disagree about a course of action.
Did you select fiduciary agents years ago?
If yes, you will want to make sure they are still willing and able to serve in these roles.
As you review and update your plan, work with your experienced estate planning attorney to determine what should be updated and what still suits your goals.
Reference: Pocono Record (June 1, 2021) “Fiduciary Agents have power to make decisions you’d prefer to make yourself”