Many Parsippany residents may have already gone through the process of drafting a will. After doing so, they may consider their estate planning duties to be complete and will take no further action. However, what they may not realize is that a will is just one component of a well-rounded estate plan.
For example, a will does not come into play until after the testator dies. However, what if a person becomes mentally or physically incapacitated while still alive? They may no longer be able make decisions on their own or express their wishes. Fortunately, there are estate planning documents one can execute during their lifetime in anticipation of just such a situation.
An advanced medical directive and a power of attorney are two documents a person might want to include as part of their estate plan. These documents allow others to make medical and financial decisions on a person's behalf if the person is incapacitated and is unable to do so on their own. Without these documents, if a person becomes incapacitated, such decisions would have to be made by someone appointed by the court to do so. Or, in the absence of these documents, medical professionals will simply have to take whatever actions they feel are best, even if they do not meet one's wishes.
People in the prime of their lives may think that they have time to execute such documents, and doing so at this point in time isn't really a priority. However, they may want to rethink that notion. No one can anticipate when they will die. Even young to middle-aged adults can die suddenly, such as in a car crash or through a fatal heart attack. Or, a person may slowly decline physically or mentally, due to a long-term illness or simple old age. This could cause them to reach a point where, while they finally realize they need to execute such documents, they are physically or mentally unable to do so.
No one can predict the future, so it is best to be prepared for any contingency. With a well-rounded estate plan in place, a person can rest easily knowing their affairs will be handled per their wishes in the case of incapacity or death.
Source: Forbes, "7 Big Estate Planning Mistakes - Part 1," Bob Carlson, Feb. 21, 2018