Death and taxes. Both are inevitable, and, as such, most people plan ahead to minimize their impact. It’s common practice to buy life insurance, create a will, and periodically review your beneficiary designations. Taking these steps will help ensure things go smoothly when your time comes, but what if you find yourself unable to manage your affairs before then?
It’s common to think that incapacitation won’t happen to you, but it occurs more frequently than you might imagine. There are many circumstances that can inhibit your ability to make important decisions, including accidents, injuries, and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Having the right documents in place now will help ensure you’re prepared if the unthinkable happens. Here are a few of the most important ones to consider.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) document gives the person you designate authorization to take action on your behalf. A regular POA document is invalidated when you become incapacitated. Under Utah law, however, a durable power of attorney remains effective until your death.
Using a durable POA document, your representative can pay your bills, manage investments and bank accounts, buy and sell real estate property, file your taxes, and more.
Advance Healthcare Directive
Under Utah law, the advance healthcare directive is comprised of two parts, a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.
A living will is a legally-binding document that allows you to state your preference for medical treatment and end-of-life decisions. This may include:
- Procedures and treatments used to keep you alive
- Pain management and comfort care
- The use of artificial life support
- Organ donation
- And more
A healthcare power of attorney designates an individual to act as your health care agent, giving him or her the power to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. You can specify the types of decisions your health care agent is authorized to make and also provide him or her with specific instructions.
In some circumstances, when an individual becomes incapacitated, doctors and other medical staff may refuse to provide medical information to spouses and immediate family members based on HIPAA laws. Completing HIPAA authorizations as part of your plan will help ensure the people you designate can receive your up-to-date medical information when it matters most.
Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust gives your designated trustee the ability to manage your property and assets according to the wishes laid out within your document if you become incapacitated. Upon your death, assets held within the trust also pass on to your heirs without the need for probate.
It’s Time to Get Your Affairs in Order
If you haven’t completed the necessary documents to get your affairs in order, there’s no time like the present. Our attorneys are well-versed in Utah laws and can help you design the perfect plan for your unique needs. Contact us today for a consultation.