There are basically three types of legal documents necessary to plan for mental disability: Healthcare Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney, and Revocable Living Trusts.
1. Healthcare Powers of Attorney, Including Living Wills
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a legal document that is used on your behalf while you are alive but unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself. It may also include a Living Will, which is a legal document that allows you to specify the type of treatment you want to receive if you're suffering from a terminal condition or in a persistent vegetative state. You should also name a backup agent in case the first person you name isn't able to serve as your agent. If you don't have a Healthcare Power of Attorney or Living Will, then your loved ones will end up in court fighting over what medical treatment you should or shouldn't receive, and the court will appoint a Guardian of the Person to oversee your medical care.
2. Financial Powers of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney is a legal document that is used on your behalf while you are alive but unable to make financial decisions for yourself. It allows you to appoint an agent, called your "attorney in fact," to act on your behalf to manage your finances. In Arizona and New Mexico, the Financial Power of Attorney can be durable, meaning that your attorney in fact can act immediately, or it can be springing, meaning that your attorney in fact can only act after you've been declared mentally incapacitated. With either type of document, you should also name a backup attorney in fact in case the first person you name isn't able to serve. If you don't have any type of Power of Attorney, then your assets will end up in a costly court-supervised guardianship or conservatorship and the court will appoint a Guardian or Conservator of the property to manage, invest, and spend your assets.
3. Revocable Living Trusts
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that covers all aspects of your financial life, from while you're alive and well, to if you become mentally incompetent, to after you die. If you have a trust and later become mentally incapacitated, then the trust will specify a Disability Trustee who will be able to manage and invest your assets on your behalf. It will also allow the Disability Trustee to spend the trust assets to take care of you and your family. If you don't have a Power of Attorney and a Revocable Living Trust, then your assets will end up in a court-supervised guardianship or conservatorship and the court will appoint a Guardian or Conservator of the property to manage, invest, and spend your assets.
Please see one of our estate planning attorneys to ensure that you have the necessary healthcare documents to protect you in case of mental disability.
Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall? First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters. Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others - which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones. We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership. If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!