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What happens if my estate plan doesn’t include incapacity?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2022 | Estate Planning |

When we think about estate planning, we often only think about death. After all, the primary purpose of an estate plan is to make sure that your wishes are known and followed after you pass, right? Not exactly. A fully flushed-out estate plan has planning for trust transfers prior to death to protect them from creditors, transfers to trusts to help you qualify for supportive services and incapacity planning. In this post, we will focus on Cincinnati, Ohio, incapacity planning.

What happens if you die without an incapacity plan?

First, if you are married, everything will fall on your spouse to handle. This includes your healthcare decisions, paying bills, taking care of the home and kids, work, etc. If you have never spoken about this possibility, your spouse will have to guess at what you want. For example, how long do you keep them on life support? Do you allow the doctors to amputate a limb to save their life? Are there religious objections to anything?

Then, as for bills, does your spouse know how to pay the bills? Do they even know where to pay them? If you were in a coma, would the mortgage or rent be paid? Would your spouse be able to access the bank and brokerage accounts? These are all issues that Cincinnati, Ohio, incapacity planning solves.

Account access and control

First, and foremost, your estate plan should have a full accounting of all of the accounts and how to access them. Of course, bank and brokerage accounts should be listed, but do not forget all the other accounts too, like entertainment (Netflix, HBOMAX, etc.) and bills (water, electric, mortgage, rent, etc.). Make sure your spouse can access everything and maintain the life you both have created. This will be immediately needed if you are incapacitated.

Healthcare wishes

In your will or some other Cincinnati, Ohio, healthcare proxy documentation, make sure you outline your wishes for if you become incapacitated. Think about worst-case scenarios, where you may be brain dead, in an extended coma or if they need to amputate a limb. Make your wishes known.

Power of attorney

Finally, to make sure your loved ones can do these things, you will need to empower them through a power of attorney. Even if you are married, a power of attorney is still a good idea because not all accounts will automatically give them access just because they are your spouse. A power of attorney will ensure they have the requisite legal authority to act on your behalf and make decisions for you. This can be particularly important if you run a Cincinnati, Ohio, business and will need another person to run it while you are incapacitated.