Santa Maria Incapacity Planning Attorney
Over 30 Years of Experience in Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo
As people grow older, they become more susceptible to illnesses and injuries that can render them incapacitated. Those suffering from incapacity will struggle to handle their day-to-day affairs and may be unable to care for themselves. Common conditions that can result in incapacity include Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and psychosis. In some cases, incapacity can trigger extremely suddenly and without warning.
Our Santa Maria incapacity planning lawyer at the Law Offices of R. Morgan Holland, L.C. can proactively work to protect your loved ones through estate planning. We are compassionate to the stress and difficulty that emerges when a loved one’s health deteriorates and are committed to giving families the legal support that they need during difficult moments.
What Determines Incapacity in California?
In some cases, recognizing incapacity is obvious and straightforward. If someone is in a vegetative state or coma, they cannot readily communicate or advocate for themselves. In cases where an individual is conscious and verbal, determining incapacity can be a more involved process.
Deficiencies that contribute to incapacity in California include:
- Inability to communicate or understand others
- Inability to make logical deductions
- Failure to understand cause and effect
- Significant memory impairment
- Significant hallucinations or delusions
- Significant mood instability
The presence of a debilitating injury or illness can often be a portend for incapacity but does not necessarily guarantee one. Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, for example, does not necessarily mean one is incapacitated.
An individual’s doctor or another qualified health care professional will generally determine whether they meet the conditions of incapacity. Family members can sometimes dispute the findings of a doctor and take the matter to state court, where a judge will evaluate medical records and decide whether someone is legally incapacitated.
Determinations of incapacity are not mere formalities. They often serve as the basis by which estate planning tools activate and provide assistance to the impacted individual.
Estate Planning Tools That Help Plan for Incapacity
Proactive planning can help families avoid hardships that can arise when someone becomes incapacitated. Through estate planning, you can prepare for numerous medical scenarios and ensure your loved one has the legally enforceable support that they need.
Estate planning tools that can help your family prepare for incapacity include:
- Advanced health care directives. Advanced directives allow you to decide what types of medical care you wish to receive in certain scenarios should you become unable to effectively advocate for yourself.
- Medical powers of attorney. You can appoint an agent that will advocate on your behalf using instructions provided in your advanced health care directives. Medical powers of attorney have the legal authority to make decisions involving health care when the principal is incapacitated.
- Trusts. When creating a living trust, the trustor appoints a trustee to manage the trust’s contents and affairs. When the trustor becomes incapacitated, the trustee can assume additional powers and gain authority to oversee your financial interests. This prevents a prolonged period in which no one has clear authority to assume control of your assets, potentially damaging the value of your estate in the process.
- Conservatorships. When someone is legally incapacitated, they are by definition unable to care for themselves or their affairs. A California court will appoint a conservator to manage both the incapacitated party’s health and estate. Appointing a conservator may not be necessary if you already have legally enforceable documents in place that cover the management of your person and estate.
We can accurately assess and evaluate your legal matter and provide you with solutions.
While planning for incapacity is especially important if your family has a known history of developing a high-risk medical condition, it is often a good idea to build an estate plan even if you are otherwise healthy. Conditions and injuries that cause incapacity can arise at any time, even among younger individuals. No matter your situation, our Santa Maria incapacity planning attorney at the Law Offices of R. Morgan Holland, L.C. can provide the guidance and legal protection that you and your loved ones need.
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