Most of us have fond memories of our first apartments; we were independent, on our own, free. We were finally adults. Part of this independence was due to the fact that we are able to enter into contracts on our own. Physical or mental incapacity will prevent us from being able to do so. A prudent estate plan will address the possible issues of incapacity. These issues must be addressed when we are legally capable of doing so. Anyone who has created any type of an estate plan has of course addressed the issue of their passing. Loss of capacity even for a very short time can be almost as traumatic an experience to your family.
In a strange way having no plan in place is a plan itself. Whether we arrive at the state of incapacity through accident or injury, or just the effects of advanced age, we must have others act on our behalf. Without prior written evidence on our behalf, next of kin or even an appointed guardian will make our decisions for us with regards to finances and healthcare.
In New York State, your attending physician determines your incapacity. Before any life-saving medical procedures are withdrawn, a second physician must also determine your incapacity. Importantly your attending physician will also make a determination as to when you have regained your capacity. This allows you once again to act on your own behalf in legal and medical matters.
Consider in advance the people in your life in whom you have the greatest trust. Consider their strengths and weaknesses. Advise them in advance that they will be in charge of your health or wealth and when you are sure of your intentions, your attorney can create the important documents to secure your well-being and that of your family.