Ensuring that an estate plan provides for many different types of situations is an important part of developing a comprehensive overall estate plan. A complete estate plan should account for circumstances when an estate planner may be incapacitated and unable to direct their medical or financial affairs for themselves.

There are two estate planning documents that can help estate planners prepare for incapacity. An advance directive can help estate planners plan for their medical care and treatment even if they become incapacitated at some point and are unable to direct it for themselves. Advance directives can also be referred to as advance healthcare directives or living wills but the purpose is essentially the same to help plan for the estate planner’s medical incapacity.

A power of attorney can also be used for healthcare purposes. Powers of attorney, however, can also designate a trusted family member or friend to manage the estate planner’s financial affairs if they become incapacitated and are unable to do so for themselves. An advance directive will also be used designate a trusted friend or family member to direct the estate planner’s medical care if they become incapacitated. An advance directive will specify the types of medical care and treatments the estate planner wants to receive or does not want and will address resuscitation which is an important issue.

Planning for incapacity is an essential component of any estate plan. Estate planners should familiarize themselves with advance directives and powers of attorney and how to develop an estate plan that works for them and their needs.