The Tools Planning for Incapacity

Revocable Living Trust

provides the greatest degree of asset management and protection
The trustee of a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) has complete ownership and control of assets held in the trust.

You serve as the trustee of your RLT while you are alive and well.

If you become incapacitated, the person you have named as your successor trustee takes over management and protection of trust assets without court involvement.

The trustee's powers only apply to assets you held in your RLT. Although most assets are held in trust, it is still rare for all of a person's assets to be held in a trust.

Durable Power of Attorney

covers other important legal and financial matters
While you are alive and well, you have complete control over assets that you choose not to hold in your RLT, such as retirement accounts.

If you become incapacitated, the person you name as your agent in your Durable Power of Attorney can manage your non-trust assets, file your taxes on your behalf, and act as your legal representative as necessary without court involvement.

Unlike your successor trustee, your agent is not treated as the owner of your non-trust assets.

Advance Health Care Directive

control what medical decisions are made and by whom
An Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) serves two very important purposes:

(1) it communicates your specific health care wishes, including but not limited to the kind of medical treatment you want to receive if you have a terminal, irreversible medical condition and can no longer communicate your wishes;

(2) it identifies the individuals you have chosen to make medical decisions for you if you're no longer able to make such decisions for yourself.

HIPAA Authorizations

ensure that people you choose have access to your protected health information
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) limits the ability of others to access to your protected health care information.

Although HIPAA is generally a beneficial law while you are alive and well, if you become incapacitated, it can result in your family's inability to obtain important medical information about you when they need it the most.

This problem can be avoided by authorizing certain individuals to obtain and receive your protected health care information.