A person 18 years of age or older who is incapable of effectively making/communicating decisions or receiving and/or evaluating information to such a degree that the individual lacks the ability to take care of their own basic needs including physical health, welfare and safety.
If a judge determines that someone is legally incapacitated, the court has the authority to appoint a guardian or conservator to manage that person’s property and ensure their daily needs are met.
A person can be considered legally incapacitated if they:
- Are unable to make rational decisions
- Lack the capability to engage in responsible actions
- Have been diagnosed with a mental and/or physical disability or illness
- Were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, causing temporary or permanent impairment
Declarations of incapacitation vary state by state. While states also vary in the terminology used for this legal status (i.e. interdict, disabled person and incompetent), most states use the term incapacitated.
Hiring an experienced attorney to assist with establishing a guardianship or conservatorship for a currently incapacitated individual with legal affairs is extremely important. Incapacitation planning and drawing up and preparing a legal documents that determine a course of action of what you want to happen should you ever lose your own ability to make choices with legal affairs is just as important.
Unlike estate or retirement planning, which prepare for eventualities, incapacitation planning addresses a possibility.
Such plans vary in scope and size, but they typically can include a:
- Living Will – A document that details the kind of health care you wish to receive or not receive if you were to lose capacity.
- Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) – A document that states the specific conditions in which you want to accept or refuse resuscitative measures if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.
- Health Care Power of Attorney – If you can no longer make medical decisions, this document designates someone to legally make them for you, on your behalf.
- HIPAA Release – A document that allows health care providers to legally be able to speak to pre-selected individuals (i.e. family, relatives or friends) about otherwise confidential medical details.
- Power of Attorney for Finances – If you lose the ability to make financial decisions, this document allows you to choose who you want to have the legal authority to manage your financial affairs on your behalf.
Picking the right plan for you and your loved ones can save you unspeakable amounts of time and money down the road.
We know it’s not the most pleasant of preparations to think or speak about, but by hiring an experienced and compassionate lawyer who has been through the process, you can sleep better at night knowing that if anything were to go wrong, your financial, medical and decision-making affairs are in order – giving you one less thing to worry about when unfortunate times arise.
To learn more about incapacitation planning in Denver, contact Brown & Crona, LLC to arrange an appointment: (303) 339-3750 or visit our website.