April 27, 2018

The next several blog posts will be about one of my favorite topics – incapacity planning!

Not that I’ve got some morbid interest in the subject. And not that everyone gets all excited about it, either. (“Oh, boy, I’ve wanted to plan for my incapacity since I was 5 years old! I can’t wait!”) Rather, it is a seriously neglected aspect of estate planning, yet just as important … maybe more important … than death planning.

It is neglected by the public, who don’t like to plan for death, but don’t even think about incapacity. Yet, the odds are higher in any given year that you will suffer at least some temporary incapacity than that you will die.

It is neglected by lawyers, who typically regard incapacity documents as one-size-fits-all throw aways, never customized for each client. And certainly without detailed attention to how even the non-customized pieces of each document are crafted to achieve the desired results.

Neglected by both the public and lawyers, who don’t adequately ask themselves just exactly how, given the client’s assets, family, circumstances, trusted persons will be able to seamlessly handle the client’s affairs in the event of incapacity. This includes taking care of (1) the client’s health, (2) money and financial matters, (3) legal affairs, and (4) the client’s family.

Which brings me to that second point: the planning is critical.

In many ways, the certainty and finality of death make it much easier to plan for, and to cope with once it happens, than incapacity. Coping with someone’s incapacity can sometimes be worse than coping with someone’s death: uncertainty about the future, loss of earning capacity, changes in personality, disruption of relationships, expenses of care, loss of one of the active leaders in the family (spouse, parent of a minor, parent of a disabled child), assets tied up because the owner is not dead but still living … the list goes on.

OK, so in and amongst the joy of living, being a human being is scary, too. Some of the scary bits we can fix. But fixable or not, we can plan for all of them, and in so doing, mitigate the harm. This is certainly true for the possibility of our own (temporary or permanent) incapacity. A little knowledge, forethought, and action can go a long way. Stay tuned.

Learn more about Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts here.

Posted by Attorney Mark Worthington.

This blog post does not constitute legal or tax advice, even if you are presently a client of Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts, PC, nor is an attorney-client relationship created by reading it. If you want legal or tax advice, you should retain a licensed attorney or tax advisor for that purpose.