Part 2: When To Update Your Incapacity Planning Documents

In the article posted last week, Incapacity Planning Part 1: An Essential Component to a Comprehensive Estate Plan, we covered why incapacity planning is so important and discussed some of the documents and strategies we can use to help you and your loved ones navigate that difficult scenario. Today we’ll discuss when it’s time to update your planning documents. After all, while no one likes to think they may become incapacitated, ignoring the possibility is not the solution.

The sad truth is that incapacity can happen when we least expect it, and when it does, it will go one of two ways: you have either made incapacity decisions for yourself with prior planning, or someone else will make those decisions for you. The first option requires you to act now to prepare for the uncomfortable “what ifs,” but the second option will invariably cost your loved ones more stress, time, and money if the unthinkable happens and no incapacity documents are in place.

Navigating incapacity can be made even worse if the documents you have are outdated and do not reflect your current circumstances, relationships, and wishes. Just imagine your ex-partner taking control of your finances or deciding whether to pull the plug when you’re in a coma because you forgot to update your documents!

Here are some situations that require updating your incapacity planning documents:

  • Your Relationship With Your Agent Has Changed – You want to ensure your named agents reflect current relationships, so they’ll need to be updated if you’ve recently gotten married or divorced, if your previously named agent is no longer able to serve or has moved out of state, if you don’t get along with him/her anymore, etc.
  • You Have a New Child – Your priorities change when you have a child, and your documents should plan for the care of your minor children.
  • You Start a Business – Even if your personal situation has not changed, you want to make sure your new business is taken care of when you become incapacitated.
  • You Become Sick or Injured – When an injury or medical diagnosis makes incapacity more likely or imminent, it’s a good time to update your incapacity plan.
  • You Move to a New State – Each state has its own laws, so when you move, you should update your plan to reflect your new home state’s laws to ensure that it is enforceable in your state.
  • You Haven’t Updated in Awhile – If it’s been more than five years, you should check to make certain your plan complies with current laws and takes advantage of any new legal strategies that weren’t available when you last executed your documents. If it’s been more than ten years, it most likely needs to be updated.
  • You Change Your Mind – Sometimes you just change our mind about who you want to take care of you!

In short, keeping your plan updated is as essential as having a plan at all. If your circumstances have changed and your documents do not reflect your new situation, your loved ones could have an even harder time caring for you in your time of need.

At TCV, we provide a free consultation to review your entire estate plan, including your incapacity documents, and can help make sure all your documents reflect your current situation and wishes. We look forward to working with you!

Rachel Bosworth, Attorney, TCV