Elderly woman discussing estate plan with lawyer

Planning for the Incapacity of Progressive Diseases

If you or a close relative has been diagnosed with a disease that will interfere with your ability to be independent physically and/or mentally, you are at a serious crossroads. You can proceed blindly, pretending the inevitable will not happen, or you can take control and plan for incapacity. 

At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we provide excellent incapacity planning services for clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod. As a family business with years of experience, we are dedicated to making your journey as easy as possible. Contact us to find out just how knowledgeable, skilled, and compassionate we are. 

No one wants to plan for, or even think about, the possibility of future incapacity. Nonetheless, according to an AARP study, nearly 70 percent of those 65 and older will become incapacitated before they die. For those with progressive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, or terminal cancer, incapacity is even more certain. Though it takes courage, individuals diagnosed with such diseases and those who love them need to prepare for the future. 

You may feel singled out for hardship, but the fact remains that all of us may become incapacitated at any time by a heart attack, stroke, or car accident, and therefore adults of any age or health condition should plan for incapacity.

Documents to Protect Your Assets and Your Rights as Your Disease Progresses

Having the necessary documents drafted and executed by our incapacity planning attorneys goes a long way to securing your future. The following documents will help you avoid foreseeable difficulties related to legal, financial, and personal concerns. 

Discussing and preparing these documents now, however uncomfortable it may be, will save you and your family from needless arguments, complications, and distress at a far more challenging time:

Advanced Directive —  declares what kind of health care you wish to receive, or refuse to receive, if you become incapacitated and cannot make such decisions. For example, 

you may not want to be intubated or fed through a stomach tube or you may want all possible steps taken to lengthen your life.

Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) — may be part of a living will or a separate document. Either way, it states circumstances under which you refuse resuscitative measures, such as cardiopulmonary respiration or CPR when your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.

Health Care Power of Attorney (Health Care Proxy) — gives a chosen individual the legal right to make medical choices on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself. You can decide that the health care proxy will take effect immediately, or only after you lose capacity.

HIPAA Release —  allows your physicians or health care providers to share your otherwise confidential medical information with the individuals you name.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances gives the person you choose the legal authority to manage your financial affairs if you lose the ability to do so yourself. 

Like a health care power of attorney, the financial power of attorney can take effect immediately or at some designated later time. A durable power of attorney will, for example, permit your chosen representative to access your bank account and pay 

your bills if you become unable to do so.

Revocable Living Trust — allows property to pass from you to your beneficiaries without going through probate. You may be your own trustee (the person who manages the trust) at the outset but can choose a trusted individual as trustee for when you become incapacitated. The creation of a revocable living trust ensures that your assets are protected and distributed as you wish even if you can no longer manage them.

Contact Our Experienced Incapacity Planning Lawyers Now

Knowing that you have a progressive illness is painful and hard to process. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that most people who will become incapacitated don’t have the warning you do which often prevents them from adequately preparing. Your diagnosis gives you and your loved ones the ability to take steps to control how your future is handled. At Surprenant & Beneski, we will do all we can to help. Contact us today so we can chart your path together.