Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Getting Yourself In Order--Step 3: Arranging for Proper Decision Makers in the Event of Disability

In this series about getting yourself in order, we are up to step number three. Step 3 is establishing decision makers for yourself in the event of disability. Establishing proper decision makers for yourself is crucial to protecting yourself and family should disability or incapacity occur. How you do this is discussed in greater detail below.

First, let's review where we are in getting yourself in order. The first two steps:

1. Protect your House. Make sure your house is protected with proper insurance coverage and pay special attention to liability coverage and to adding a personal liability umbrella to your homeowner's insurance.

2. Protect your Car. Make sure your auto insurance is adequate and pay special attention to the liability limits. You won't survive financially if you lose everything in a lawsuit involving a car accident.

And now: 3. Provide for who makes decisions for you if you are incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own.

Just like a car accident, we don't plan to become incapacitated through illness or injury. However, stuff happens and either through age, illness, and injury, incapacity can occur. Perhaps you know someone or know of someone who cannot speak for themselves and the occurrence is a shocking surprise.

Our State has statutes which provide for who will make your decisions if you haven't provided for this yourself. However, it would be coincidental if the State selects who you would want making those decisions. Proper planning is not a game of chance, it is about creating certainty. Here's another way to look at this issue. One element of being responsible to protect ourselves from unplanned events, especially the unpleasant ones.

By creating your own plan, with proper legal documents, you can control the outcome of an uncertain future. To make sure that you have the decision makers in place that you choose, you should adopt two different types of Durable Powers of Attorney. Details on these documents have been discussed in several of our prior articles and we encourage you to review those.

The two types of Durable Powers of Attorney that you want are:

1. A Durable Financial Power of Attorney; and

2. A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney.

In each type, you want to make sure the appropriate HIPAA language is included. We discussed having HIPAA in your DPOA in a prior article.

If you adopt these two documents, you will make your life is better and more secure and go far in protecting your family. So that is Step 3 in getting yourself in order.

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